Mepa's decisions (letters) - www.timesofmalta.com
Helen Caruana Galizia, Birzebbuga.
Tue, Oct 16, 2007
Mepa tells us that all the decisions taken by the authority relating to the permits given for the re-development of Ulysses Lodge in Ramla l-Hamra "were in complete conformity with all policies and legislation regulating development".
Mepa goes on: "While consultation is carried out at the appropriate junctures and contributions by the public and NGOs are taken into account, the Authority pointed out that it does not take decisions by public acclamation (sic) but rather bases its decisions on policies and regulations, facts, as well as on scientific studies."
In other words, the above paragraph tells us that while the public's and NGOs' views are invited, the Authority then proceeds to do precisely what it and its developer allies want to do, their decisions masquerading under the spurious claim of "scientific studies".
As for the policies and regulations Mepa also abides by, the interpretation of these same policies is notoriously elastic and lacking in evidence.
The "studies" are so "scientific" that what would normally be considered major negative impacts are suddenly changed to "minor negatives" by little more than the stroke of a pen, with no indication of the technical data used to come to that conclusion. Allowing developers to decide what constitutes an "exceptional" case, exempting them from carrying out an environment impact assessment as laid down in EU directives, and using expressions like "not likely to" is about as far from "science" as you can get.
Furthermore, it is hardly the stuff of science when archaeologists are asked to prepare a brief report on planning a heritage trail which is then passed off as a full, in-depth archaeological study by the developers and accepted as such unquestioningly by Mepa. This casts doubts upon other permits which have been approved on the strength of "information supplied by developers".
We know that negotiations on the Sliema Project including Qui-si-Sana (now there's an irony!) took place in May 2005 behind closed doors with a representative of a firm of overseas developers.
In a personal communication it was disclosed to me that this prime central location was to be built into "piazzas", apartment buildings and much more, but was too important to be discussed with mere Maltese citizens.
Of course this overseas developer, like most, had no interest in Malta's "development history", or the fact that that we have more than 40,000 empty dwellings and unjust rent laws; or that we already have enough piazzas and toxic exhaust fumes. This investor was involved in negotiations yet, we, citizens and voters, are not considered worthy of consultation. But of course, I forget - Mepa does not take decisions by public "acclamation" but, apparently, by very private negotiation.
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