New Labour government will do its utmost to stop the Ramla l-Hamra development -
by di-ve news

RAMLA L-HAMRA, Malta (di-ve news)--August 04, 2007 -- 1700CEST--A new Labour government will do it utmost, within the law parameters, to stop the development of 23 villas with pools in Ramla l-Hamra, Gozo.

While addressing a press conference held at Ramla l-Hamra on Friday, MLP leader Alfred Sant said that his Labour government will use all channels at its disposal, both local and on European level, to halt this project.

Sant recalled that on 6 June 2007, the MEPA board approved an application to demolish the building known as Ulysses Lodge in Ramla l-Hamra and instead built a tourist complex comprising 23 villas with pools. Of the 11 members sitting on the MEPA board, it was only the MLP representative -- Dr Joe Brincat -- who voted against. The PN representative -- architect Joseph Falzon - voted for the project.

The opposition leader stressed that the Ramla l-Hamra site is not only blessed with unique and splendid views but it is also close to a zone wherein some Roman ruins were discovered. It is also close to another zone of utmost ecological importance.

Despite the importance of this site however, MEPA did not ask the developers to carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) on arguments that studies carried out by four archaeologists, commissioned by the developers themselves, showed that there are no archaeological remains on site. The MLP leader however mentioned how a week after, these same four archaeologists made it clear that the scope of their studies differed significantly from the aims of the EIA. The four archaeologists also insisted that they were never made aware that their study would eventually be attached with the development application. They also argued that their study was based on a proposal for a heritage trail meant to protect archaeological heritage.

The MLP leader pointed out that even the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, in a note sent to MEPA, expressed their concern over the development and its adverse effects on the archaeological remaining.

Sant also mentioned that this project will extend the development zone, contrary to what Minister George Pullicino declared a year ago when he said that there will be no further extensions to the development zone.

"When, against this backdrop, local NGO Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar asked MEPA to annul the permit for development at Ramla l-Hamra and called for an enquiry together with the resignation of the chairman and board members, the MEPA chairman announced that he is boycotting the organisation."

The opposition leader also pointed out that more than two and a half years ago, in March 2005, a member of the Private Secretariat at the Office of the Prime Minister who is also member of the MEPA board, intervened on behalf of the developers with MEPA, and was also present at the meeting which took place between the two parties. This person was also one of the 10 on the MEPA board who voted in favour of the Ramla l-Hamra development project.

Sant said that the Labour Party is against this project because it is abusive and scandalous and leads to speculation in a zone of utmost natural and historic importance. He also alleged that while the interests behind this project are not yet clear, the MLP believes that they are close to the Nationalist Party because if not, there would not have been so many MEPA board members in favour of this project.
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04 Aug 2007 by