Ramla l-Hamra controversy: ‘Only disturbed land will be developed’ - http://www.independent.com.mt/
Monday, June 25, 2007
by Juan Ameen

The two developers, Mario Grech and Emidio Azzopardi, who put forward the application for the redevelopment of Ulysses Lodge, have queried why the public outcry against the development was not raised two years ago when the outline development application was approved.

Contacted by The Malta Independent, they said that the whole application process was above board and that they have nothing to hide.

Everyone was aware of what was going on – nothing was hush-hush, they said, adding that the development is a win-win situation for everyone.

The whole development will be taking place on an area that has already been disturbed, they insist. When the whole process started, they said, the Xaghra local council was always advised about what was going on – and yet they did not do anything about it.

Furthermore, the irony of it all is that no one from the Xaghra local council or from the environmental NGOs requested a meeting with Mepa, they added.

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority on 6 June approved the full development application for the construction of 23 residential-style villas, underground parking and pools overlooking Ramla Bay, in Gozo, sparking a public outcry from environmental organisations.

Various environmental NGOs took part in a night vigil in the area between Saturday and Sunday and will today hold a protest in front of City Gate, Valletta against the development.

One of the main issues that caused a public outcry was the fact that the developers did not submit an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report. However, the developers explained, this does not mean that they did not commission and present sufficient reports.

“There were complaints because we submitted a Project Description Statement (PDS). A PDS forms part of the EIA process and the reports we submitted were so in-depth that they were sufficient,” they said.

Among the reports presented was a field study carried out by four archaeologists that found no archaeological remains in Zone C – the area that will be developed, they said.

However, they said, it took years after the outline development was approved for people to start complaining about the project.

“If the re-development of Ulysses Lodge is not a prime example of sustainable development, then we don’t know what can be called sustainable development,” they said.

The development will take place in Zone C – an area covering 7,000 square metres. It will not take place on virgin land as it was already developed, they said, but only the disturbed land will be redeveloped – an area covering 8,000 square metres and not the whole 45,000 square metres.

The development will not touch Calypso Cave or go all the way down to the beach, they explained. Once the 23 villas are built, the line of vision will be much lower because the actual buildings will be lower, they added.

The area will be heavily landscaped as was clearly stated in the full development application, they said. Before the development starts, at least 138 mature trees will be planted while another 250 trees will be planted after it is finished.

“This does not include the roof gardens that will be constructed when the villas are ready,” they added.

Furthermore, they explained, while there was a lot of controversy about the pools, these will not be built outside the footprint.

“There is a lot of misinformation on the project and people are not checking the facts before they make certain statements,” they said.
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25 Jun 2007 by Saveramla.com