Marsaskala agri-tourism proposal stokes environmentalists’ fears

‘The proposal to build a campus at Zonqor would already deprive the area and Malta of one stretch of virgin land; Malta can’t afford to lose more’ say 15 NGOs

The Munxar area in Marascala
The Munxar area in Marascala

A host of environmental and social NGOs have raised a red flag over plans by a building contractor to build a 2,000 square metre agritourism complex over 80,000 square metres of fodder land at il-Munxar in Marsaskala.

In a statement, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjhar coordinator Astrid Vella said the project proposed by Rennie Scicluna would defeat the purpose of agritourism with the construction project destroying a significant stretch of undisturbed natural landscape.

 “This confirms the concerns voiced by eNGOs that in spite of the claimed restrictions imposed by MEPA’s new rural policy, it would simply be used as screen to develop in the countryside,” Vella said of the project, which proposes to build administration offices, tourist accommodation, a beach pontoon, swimming pool, a beauty and therapy salon, fitness centre, a wine bar, an activity hall and workshops, a restaurant and a fully equipped conference centre to cater for multi-purpose events.

“Most of these facilities have nothing to do with any real agri-tourism. The tag is simply being used to disguise a hotel development. Such a project would have a severe negative impact on the visual integrity of the park, would require roads to be created to service the complex, and could create light and noise pollution in the area. The proposal to build a campus at Zonqor would already deprive the area and Malta of one stretch of virgin land; Malta can’t afford to lose more,” the NGOs said.

The NGOs added that no part of outside-development-zones should be expendable for tourism projects and that priority should be given to the redevelopment of abandoned prime sites such as the nearby derelict Jerma Hotel.

“Malta is so small that the stated agro-tourism activities can be conducted with tourists accommodated in nearby vacant properties, of which there is no shortage. This would create a genuine national benefit,” the 15 NGOs said. 

The statement was siged by NGOs Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Ramblers’ Association, Friends of the Earth (Malta), Din l-Art Helwa, NatureTrust Malta, MOAM, Sustainable Built Environment, Youth for the Environment, Greenhouse Malta, Kunsill Studenti Universitarji, Kopin, Gender Liberation, Zminijietna and the Jesuit Order.Marsa

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