Ramla l-Hamra development: ‘No inquiry needed’ – government - http://independent.com.mt/
Thursday, June 21, 2007

The government explained yesterday why no inquiry was needed into the decision by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority to give the green light to development at Ramla l-Hamra, but at the same time retained the right to hold such an inquiry at a later stage.

It issued a statement through the Department of Information in response to media reports calling for an inquiry on the permit issued for the site that is currently occupied by the Ulysses Lodge.

These reports, and the inquiry request, were ignoring one important fact, it said. The principle of new development on the site of the lodge, which has been there since the 1970s, had not been decided now, but when Mepa processed the outline application which was approved on 7 July 2005.

Last week’s decision by Mepa did not change any of the principles agreed in 2005.

Even Mepa’s decision not to carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) had been taken at the stage when Mepa was processing the outline application.

The government said it was also worth pointing out that the process that had led to the approval of the outline application had already been investigated by the auditor, and this had been documented in a report dated 2 February 2006.

The report found no irregularities but raised these points, which have already been addressed.

As for the presence of Mepa board members during meetings at Mepa, the auditor said he accepted the explanations given.

And at no time had the auditor said that Mepa was not justified in its decision not to carry out an EIA. He had objected to the fact that Mepa had not published in detail its justifications for an exemption.

As required by law, Mepa had published its decision on renouncing the request for a declaration of environmental planning in the Government Gazette of 17 June 2005. No one had objected since then. Mepa had accepted the auditor’s advice and this was documented clearly in the auditor’s report. From the day the outline permit had been issued, Mepa had discussed with the developers only the project’s design in detail.

In the light of all this, the DOI said, and in the light of the public statements of at least one registered objector, who plans to appeal against Mepa’s decision, the government did not feel it should interfere in the process at this stage.

However, the DOI added, the government retained the right to decide at a later stage whether to open an inquiry into the Mepa decision.
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21 Jun 2007 by Saveramla.com