Ramla l-Hamra: Future danger? - Letters - www.timesofmalta.com
Sat, Oct 13, 2007
Edward A. Mallia, Attard.
It came as something of a surprise to read at the end of Robert Musumeci's piece on the Ramla l-Hamra permit (October 6) that he is an architect and a PN candidate at the general election. That combination usually comes smarter than the writing led one to believe.
Mr Musumeci proposes two main lines of argument. The first is that even "if the condition for the signing of a public deed had not been imposed in the permit", land ownership would still have been an issue on the activation of the permit. But unless Mepa knew all along of the presence of public land within the development site, no one would have raised a squeak on activation of the permit.
And if Mepa knew this and the Lands Department statement that the government had no intention of transferring the land is taken at face value, why was the developer not told at an early stage of what was going to prove a fatal objection? Was there a tacit agreement to let sleeping dogs lie?
Mercifully for Mepa, the public facts point more in the direction of carelessness than of active conspiracy. It was Lino Bianco's detailed report that first stopped Mepa from issuing the permit, and then to revoke it in a cathartic public hearing, with the board once more producing its famous imitation of reeds bending in the wind (Joseph Brincat excepted).
The second line consists of repeated assertions that the planning considerations justifying the issue of the permit remain "uncontested". Mr Musumeci must be stone deaf to say that. They were contested on numerous points - on going counter to the Minerals Policy regarding blue clay areas; on being much worse than the ODZ proposal of single villa in 1995, turned down flat by Mepa; on "committed" (a Musumeci planning neologism this) and "disturbed" areas not being covered by any permit; by not accepting that 23 villas with individual swimming pools - some on the periphery of the site as Musumeci delicately puts it - constituted "a more sensitive architectural treatment".
Apart from this, Mr Musumeci conveniently forgets that Mepa has an E in it; so "planning considerations" are not the be-all and end-all. No EIA was conducted as Mepa was satisfied with the information provided by the developer's experts. The decision to waive an EIA was not backed by a reasoned public case but by a simple notification. This procedure was unequivocally condemned by the Mepa auditor, despite attempts at cover up by Mepa.
Finally Mr Musumeci runs true to his "Architect and PN candidate" form - warning intending sinners that "the decision to revoke the permit also infers (sic) that incorrect declaration of land ownership may now lead to revocation of a permit", and nodding to ODZ cowboys that "the planning considerations justifying the issue of this permit remain uncontested". The fine print on both of these can wait until after the general election, presumably.
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