Archaeologists' report 'not intended to gauge impact' -
Ramla Bay development - Friday, June 8, 2007

The four archaeologists who drew up a report submitted with the controversial development application for a tourist complex in Xaghra said yesterday their study was only a general preliminary report about cultural heritage and could not be used to consider the impacts of any proposed development on cultural heritage.

The complex, overlooking the pristine Ramla Bay, was on Wednesday given the green light by Mepa despite vociferous objections from the local council and environmentalists. One complaint was about the failure to carry out an environment impact assessment.

Archaeologists Marlene Borg, Joseph Calleja, Ernest Vella and Katya Stroud said that in 2002 they were commissioned to carry out a preliminary study aimed at compiling information pointing out archaeological remains in the vicinity of Ulysses Lodge, which could be enhanced in the future.

So the aims of their study, they said, were different from those of an EIA or any impact study on cultural heritage. "This study did not deal with either the impacts of any development in the area nor any mitigation measures that may be carried out to ensure the preservation of the cultural heritage.

"In fact, the report focused on the proposal of a heritage trail through which the cultural heritage could be preserved and better presented to the public.

"We were never informed that this report would be attached to a development permit application."

The four archaeologists said they were not present for the public consultation meeting because they were only told about it by the developer's architect a day before.

"To this date we were not even informed that this preliminary study was, in fact, being used to assess a development permit application in the area.

"While we will in no way delve into whether Mepa should call for an environmental impact assessment or not, we feel that a general preliminary report about cultural heritage cannot be used to consider the impacts of any proposed development on cultural heritage," they said.
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09 Jun 2007 by