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Seven Gozitan groups unify into NGO ‘Għal Għawdex’, demand changes to development policies in Gozo

Seven key Gozitan civil society groups, representing a broad cross-section of Gozitan society, have unified into one larger NGO called ‘Ghal Ghawdex’ and are demanding action from the government and the Planning Authority (PA) in order to foster “positive changes to construction and development policies in Gozo.”

All groups are concerned with the current state of Gozo’s natural and built environment, and have come together to issue an 8-point plan aimed at “promoting the sustainable development and prosperity of the island.”

This unprecedented alliance includes the Gozo based environmental NGOs Din L- Art Ħelwa Għawdex, Għawdix and Wirt Għawdex representing the voice of all environmentalists, the Gozo Business Chamber representing industry and commerce, the Gozo Tourism Association representing the tourism industry, the Kunsill Reġjonali Għawdex representing all the mayors and communities of the 14 local council areas, and the Gozo University Group representing Gozo’s tertiary educated youth.

According to a statement issued by the newly-formed NGO, “the 8-point plan outlines long-term, positive changes to construction and development policies in Gozo.” 

The plan is designed to ensure that “the fabric of Gozitan society, and the built and natural environment are respected, while promoting the sustainable development and prosperity of the island.”

Amongst the proposals, the NGO is calling for the development of a “new regional plan and policies specifically designed for Gozo.” 

They are also calling for the implementation of several measures to “arrest the present assault” on the island, in order to “encourage the restoration and conversion of existing large traditional properties to bring them back to life as residential homes, high-quality boutique hotels and guesthouses,” provided that the character of the existing building and environment is respected. 

Further, ‘Għal Għawdex’ is trying to designate Gozo as a ‘design priority area’ in order to ensure the use of traditional building materials for all new buildings, as well as render illegal the development and sale of new apartment blocks without adequate parking facilities. 

The NGO made a courtesy call to the President of Malta George Vella, and are now calling for urgent meetings with the Prime Minister Robert Abela, Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana and Environment Minister Miriam Dalli.

They’ve also sought to meet with the Executive Council Chairperson, and the Chairperson of the 

Planning Board at the Planning Authority, to discuss policy and implementation of the plan

The NGO believes that the right changes can be made to balance the needs of economic prosperity with the protection and preservation of Gozo’s heritage and environment. 

Article Source: Malta Independent