The Planning Authority is currently processing over 13,500 objections to the proposed ‘Comino village’ plans to create a complex of villas that detractors feel will disfigure the picturesque Santa Marija Bay.
The proposal forms part of the redevelopment of the Comino Hotel redevelopment, which has now been met with strong opposition from the public after a call to action from environmental groups.
The 13,500 figure, according to a group of environmental groups leading the charge against the development, represents a record number of objections submitted against a project proposal within a single representation period.
“This level of public anger makes it difficult to see how the PA could possibly approve this destructive scheme being proposed by the Hili Group,” – BirdLife Malta, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Friends of the Earth Malta, Moviment Graffitti, and Nature Trust said on Friday after the period of submissions closed earlier this week.
Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar and Ramblers Malta are also vociferously opposing the project.
“Despite claims by the developers that the proposed plans would take up less land overall, the developers’ own figures show how the footprint is significantly larger for the “village” in Santa Marija Bay,” the NGOs said.
The project, they insist, stands to destroy intact garigue to push the facility farther from the coast and erect buildings further into the bay in the place of abandoned sports courts.
Given the public outrage, the five environmental appealed to Hili Ventures to “withdraw all plans for Santa Marija Bay and to abandon the idea of sale of any part of the complex to third parties. “Ultimately, the most sustainable construction for the island of Comino is no construction at all.”
They underscored how the visual impact is evident from the renders that have been produced by the developers themselves.
The five groups added, “In addition, it takes very little imagination to foresee the greater congestion and disturbance expected, both on land and at sea, if the bay is effectively transformed into a high-end holiday resort, complete with pontoon.”
If the PA grants permission for this project, the five NGOs contend, it would be to the detriment of the health of our natural environment and to the public seeking a peaceful escape – a necessity they say is under serious threat on the Maltese Islands.
They recalled Comino how is a Rural Conservation Area, a Nature Reserve, a Bird Sanctuary, a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area in the Natura 2000 network, an Important Bird Area of International and EU Importance, and a Dark Sky Heritage site home to many nationally and internationally protected habitats and species.
The five groups slammed “the superficial assessment of the private project on a prized nature reserve in favour of the commercial interests of a few who are catering to the wealthy”.