29 AUGUST 2001

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Harry Vassallo writes to Regent Hotels

Harry Vassallo, Chairperson of Alternattiva Demokratika, wrote to Tom Huffsmith, Chief Executive of Regent Hotels International and to Michael Batt, President and Chief Executive of the Carslon Leisure Group regarding the proposed development of a Golf Course at Tal-Virtu’.

The golf course forms part of the proposed project by AX Holdings and Regent Hotels. In turn, Regent Hotels forms part of the Carslon group.

In his correspondence, Dr Vassallo said, "While our party welcomes your interest in the development of Malta’s tourism product we are concerned that your commitment to the ex-Verdala Hotel aligns your interest with the development of an 18-hole golf course which we consider to be an inappropriate and unsustainable development.

"The fact that the developer advertises his residential and hotel development as neighbouring a non-existent golf course long before any permit for this development is issued is deliberate misrepresentation on an international level.

"The context in which this development is proposed is that of a country subject to permanent drought conditions allayed only by the expenditure of 11% of all energy produced in the country on reverse osmosis plants to produce 50 per cent of the country’s drinking water supply. A lawn is an anti-social extravagance in such conditions. A golf course beggars description.

Dr Vassallo explains how, since its first construction the Verdala Hotel has been dogged by recurrent failure. The fact that the present development received a recommendation for refusal by the Planning Authority’s technical Directorate. A failure following the proposed development will leave considerably more environmental fall-out than has occurred in previous attempt to operate a hotel at this site.

He adds, "A failed golf course of 65 hectares in a country having a mere 12,000 hectares of arable land is a risk the country cannot afford to take, a risk which alone justifies the constantly mounting popular opposition to project.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt