Discover Għar Ħarq Ħammiem, a unique cave threatened by development

Few are aware of the uniqueness of the subterranean cavern at Ħarq Ħammiem, just off St George’s Bay, largely because it is difficult to access. Yet, it has hit the headlines in recent weeks due to threats posed by development in the area.

A video documenting the beauty of the cave aired on TVM programme Taħt l-Art and published on Vimeo six years ago is a rare find (below). Experts in various fields explain (in Maltese) the unique features of Ħarq Ħammiem cave.

“No other feature remotely like the cave is known in the Maltese Islands,” according to the Environmental Planning Statement (EPS) prepared for the City Centre project  which shows the cave lies under the proposed development.

The development proposed by Silvio Debono on the ITS site at St George’s Bay consists of a multi-use development, including a five-star hotel (455 rooms), 158 residences, commercial office space, a shopping mall and restaurants as well as a car park.

The EPS published in October 2017 notes that the larger of the two chambers of Ħarq Ħammiem cave is located beneath the project site. The part of the site overlying the cave would be open space, part of which would be occupied by a swimming pool and the other by part of the public plaza. The latter is considered an important component of the development as it is expected to connect the shopping mall with the rest of Paceville.

It states that any rock excavation over Ħarq Ħammiem cave and its buffer zone should be made with special attention. Concerns were also raised on the impact of an adjacent development known as The Villa Rosa project. The developer, Anton Camilleri ‘tal- Franċiż’, told The Shift News the cave lies entirely outside of the project’s site boundary and will not be touched by the Villa Rosa project.

A Facebook group called ‘Save Ħarq Ħammiem” has been created to gather support for the cave’s protection.

A public meeting on the impact of the ITS development, known as City Centre, is being organised tomorrow by Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent and Moviment Graffitti. The meeting starts at 7.15pm and will be held at Pembroke primary school (hall), Kullegg Santa Klara, Triq Madre Margerita Debrincat.

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