Project description statement is there to see, Mepa says - http://www.timesofmalta.com/
Ramla l-Hamra development
The Malta Environment and Planning Authority said the project description statement for the tourist complex overlooking Ramla l-Hamra, in Gozo, had been available since 2005.
Journalists had the opportunity to view the documents that are still available for public scrutiny as access to such studies was in line with Mepa's obligations to environmental information.
This, if Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) had asked to see such documents, as it requested to view the plans, the request would have been acceded to, Mepa said yesterday in reaction to comments by the NGO.
Environment NGOs, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and the Xaghra local council claimed serious irregularities in the process after Mepa gave the green light during a public hearing for the building of 23 self-catering villa-style tourist units close to Ulysses Lodge in Ramla l-Hamra.
Mepa said that members of the planning directorate met with FAA the day before the hearing to service their request to view the plans. However, no interest was shown at the time by FAA to view the PDS. "FAA quotes the archaeologists who submitted the report as part of the PDS. They state that it was a preliminary report not prepared or meant to be adequate for environment assessment purposes but presented by the developers as an in-depth study and accepted as such by Mepa.
"To quote the executive summary of the archaeologist's report, the archaeological studies were based on 'extensive field surveys and archival research' and 'found no archaeological features in the area to be developed close to Calypso Cave'," Mepa said.
With regard to the comment made by FAA on applying the provisions of withdrawal of permit (article 39A), Mepa said there is a procedure to be followed in such circumstances. This was pointed out during the Mepa board sitting. Such a procedure would require the submission of proof to substantiate the request, it said.
During a recent press conference, Mepa chairman Andrew Calleja declared a boycott on FAA, after its spokesman Astrid Vella called on Mepa board members to resign.
A number of environmental organisations, including the Church Environment Commission, criticised Mepa for such a decision.
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