Environmental organisations are calling on the public to oppose plans by the Hili Group for a complex of villas on Comino as part of their plans for the new Comino hotel.
The plans, which are at present being considered by the Planning Authority, would see the site of the former Comino Hotel redeveloped. This will include the replacement of the nine derelict bungalows at Santa Marija Bay with a larger complex of 19 villas, complete with a convenience store and amenities.
The ENGOs say the development could become a “Comino village” of permanent residences through legal loopholes.
The Environment and Resources Authority approval of the project is currently being appealed before the Planning Tribunal (EPRT) by seven organisations: BirdLife Malta, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta – FEE, and Ramblers’ Association of Malta.
They said it is “shocking that such a development is even being considered. The public should take the opportunity to express their frustration at this proposed development and remind the Planning Authority that their duty does not lie with developers and big business but towards the greater good ‘on behalf of the community to provide a balanced and sustainable environment’, as per its mission statement.
Comino is designated as a Rural Conservation Area, a Nature Reserve, a Special Area of Conservation, a Special Protection Area, an Important Bird Area of International and EU Importance, a Natura 2000 site, a Bird Sanctuary, and a Dark Sky Heritage site.
The proposed development is not compatible with any of these designations and has been described as “monstrous” and an “occupation by stealth” of the island which, the ENGOs insist, “should be held in trust for all Maltese and Gozitan residents to enjoy”.
“The influx of heavy equipment, construction materials and workforce would cause massive environmental impact, as well as the irreversible destruction of areas of natural habitat for the complex itself and the greater area of disturbance around it,” they point out.
They have also raised “grave concerns” about increased traffic introduced to the area and the handling and treatment of supplies and waste leading to an increase in vermin and litter, which are directly harmful to the delicate local ecosystem, including populations of protected vulnerable Yelkouan Shearwaters in the direct vicinity.
“We cannot understand how ERA went ahead and recommended this project when it breaches every environmental and planning policy in the book, ranging from the EU’s Habitats Directive to the Local Plan,” the same organisations recently said.
“Instead of safeguarding biodiversity and the delicate ecological balance of this Natura 2000 site, ERA has approved the extensive urbanisation of the island, the uprooting of 380 protected trees and the denaturation of the site.”
Objections to application PA/4777/20 can be submitted to the Planning Authority by 23 January online at: https://pa.movimentgraffitti.org/permit/24