POLICY RCO.29 of 1990
DISASTER AT WIED IL-GHASEL -
NO ACCOUNTABILITY! NO JUSTICE!
30th JUNE 2013
DISASTER AT WIED IL-GHASEL -
NO ACCOUNTABILITY! NO JUSTICE!
Here we stand, bearing witness to what shall always be a case of extreme shame and absolute abuse!
The issue has now taken a very worrying turn and perspective, well above environmental concerns.
But we do not have the competence to judge, nor are we enabled to do so.
Hence we shall simply do what we have always done:
Show the world what is going on, compared to what the law dictates, while we leave the final verdict with you.
Democracy and Justice MUST prevail!
5th JUNE 2013
Despite our detailed report to Dr. Mario Scicluna of MEPA's Enforcement Directorate, (see 18th May update below), no acknowledgement was received, far less any action was taken to curb the blatant infringements being committed by the developers.
Furthermore, a year ago, on the 28th June, 2012, HPM submitted the largest environmental petition in Malta's history to the highest authorities of the state including both the President and Parliament. No action has yet been taken to honour the will and requests of over 24,400 people.
As for the last legal step in Nature Trust's & HPM's joint appeal, the decision due this Spring was never proclaimed since the magistrate concerned was first removed from office, and eventually found dead. No word of when his cases shall be rescheduled for a second hearing. This despite an investment of nearly 1,000 euros in legal fees, and work on site still being permitted regardless of all!
And to add further insult to severe injury, works are now commencing at 5.15am, with police reports by disturbed residents being ignored.
This serious state of affairs is now being reported to the press
18th MAY 2013
HPM REPORT TO MEPA ILLUSTRATES FLAGRANT INFRINGEMENTS
25th APRIL 2013
It is also considered to be so by the
(IUCN / The World Conservation Union)
HPM would like to
point out that the concerned application PA/03882/02 was submitted on
the 9th July 2002, while policy map A.11. was issued in June 2002.
For this reason, the applied-for development permission should not have been granted under the provisions of Structure Plan Policy BEN 4, whereby it is stated that:
“During the interim period between the commencement date of the Structure Plan and the adoption of any particular Local Plan, permission will not normally be given unless the Planning Authority is satisfied that such permission would be unlikely to compromise the objectives of the review forming part of Local Plan preparation.”
HPM would also like to bring to attention to the fact that approval of the second permit 05560/05 was approved by the DCA in February 2009.
This despite the ratification of map A.11 in the revised CMLP of July 2006, and the following policies found within.
Central Malta Local Plan (CMLP)
"Most of the urban areas in the CMLP localities are residential in
character. The Local Plan’s primary goal is therefore to improve the
urban environment mainly by means of policies that protect the amenity
of all residential areas. These policies safeguard residential areas
against bad neighbour developments and from overdevelopment, promote
residential rehabilitation projects, protect existing urban spaces and
important streetscapes, restrain car usage, improve conditions for
pedestrians and ensure the additional provision of open spaces. The
remaining rural areas in the central localities also require protection
and this is achieved by restraining further urban expansion, by
protecting areas of conservation value and by designating strategic open
gaps between existing settlements."
"Certain residential areas have become unpopular to live in due to the establishment over a period of time of a number of commercial and bad neighbourly uses. As a result, a number of urban areas have been transformed into areas of mixed use.
The importance of safeguarding the character of all residential areas cannot be overemphasised, and to this effect the objective seeks to improve the residential environment by controlling bad neighbour developments."
(relevant SP Policies BEN1, IND7)
(relevant CMLP General Policies CGO7, CG08)
"The provision of public open spaces within the urban areas of the Central Localities is very limited. Policies are therefore required in order to ensure the protection of these important landscaped spaces. The progressive introduction of more greenery in strategic urban locations and the embellishment of public open spaces and squares, including enhancement of the character of town and local centres will gradually upgrade the public realm. Within the various Urban Conservation Areas, internal open space enclaves play a very important role in maintaining a very high quality urban environment."
"The plan therefore identifies and protects these open space enclaves. The conservation, protection and enhancement of existing public open spaces private open space enclaves and urban ‘lungs’ is an objective of the Local Plan for improving the urban environment."
(relevant SP Policies BEN18, BEN19, UCO4, UCO6, UCO12, UCO13, RCO32)
(relevant CMLP General Policies CG09, CG11, CG18)"
The area concerned in Mosta was duly designated as
The Mosta Environmental Constraints Map MOM7
The Mosta Environmental Constraints Map MOM7
(which as the name suggests specifically designates which areas may be built and otherwise). It clearly shows that most of the area is a listed Ecological Area/Site (See policy CG 22). The approved plans were not issued according to these constraints and are fully in contrast with several DPA policies, more of which are hereby reproduced.
So it is clear that the development permit violates several of MEPA’s own urban and rural policies.
And when it comes to the validity and meaning of constraints, let us take a look at MEPA's own website for the anwsers:
HPM would also like to share the following information taken from MEPA's website. Any comments, at this stage, are superfluous!
This guidance is intended to achieve a number of objectives namely :
a) To facilitate policy interpretation of Local Plan Policies
b) To indicate the procedure when identified situations arise
c) To guide interpretation when identified anomalies arise
"It is a dynamic document in the sense that it is envisaged to be continually updated to serve as a reference point when issues of policy interpretation arise..."
"It is hoped that this guidance will also serve to reduce inconsistencies in recommendations and decisions so that the planning process is rendered more equitable and disagreements arising from different interpretations on broadly similar cases are as much as possible avoided."
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS IN RELATION TO THE
APPLICATION AND INTERPRETATION OF LOCAL PLANS:
Vi. WHAT IS THE LEGAL STATUS OF CONSTRAINTS?:
"Those constraints that have been adopted in the Local Plan, together with constraints made by MEPA or any entity within MEPA or the Planning Appeals’ Board, are to be applied and interpreted as policies of the said Local Plan.
All other constraints made at the request of third parties, including government entities, are to be interpreted as a requirement for consultation, the outcome of which must be applied in accordance with usual procedure."
How are constraints arising from constraints Maps to be interpreted?
HPM asks whether the approval of this permit can seriously be considered to be in line with all the above.
HPM would also like to know the meaning of a 'protected site' and asks WHO is responsible and accountable for the monitoring, protection and preservation of such sites?
HPM awaits clarification on why policy RCO.29 was clearly not adhered to, along with all the above quoted relevant policies and including Mosta’s constraints map MOM7
HPM appeals yet again to all those with the authority and responsibility, and all those of good sense and will, to act and implement justice with immediate and absolute effect, by withdrawing development permit PA05560/05.
This in view of several factors brought to the authority’s attention over the past 3 years, and including the persistent lack of adherence to the conditions determined in the reconsideration report.
HPM has presented ample evidence of these breaches, some of have already been verified and found to be correct and others which are still under investigation. This is no more than a repetition of what happened in 2009.
HPM would like to remind the authority that the decision was upheld subject to a number of conditions. The fact that these have not been respected by the developer on more than one instance and in several ways makes the party concerned a relapser.
This apart from the fact this permit should have never even been considered, due to its absolute contrast with all the relevant policies listed earlier and due to its protected status.
How is it possible that we are to rest our minds that the permit was issued with due diligence when in July 2011 a question put to the authority concerning the part of the building where excavation two floors deep will come to within less than a metre of the valley wall proper, with the near-surety that this will collapse?
So far, the only reply this particular concern is that it is currently being discussed internally and being looked into, or examined accordingly.
Since when are such fundamental issues concerning such an important site debated and considered AFTER the permit has been issued, and only after the insistence of HPM and other NGOs for MEPA to do so? And why is this being considered over 2 years from the original commencement notice?
Going back to MEPA’s own statement taken from the aforementioned PR:
"However, Mepa is an institution that is mandated to act within the parameters of existing laws and policies, and in this case it has acted entirely within these parameters,"
HPM asks whether the approval of this permit can seriously be considered to be in line with the above. HPM believes that laws are there to be observed by everyone, especially the same authorities who are supposed to enforce them.
We also believe in correctness and legality, and we certainly expect the institutions entrusted and paid by us, as citizens and taxpayers in a modern democratic EU country to assume the responsibility of fair government.
Above all, we believe that discrimination and lack of accountability should not be perpetrated nor supported by any such authority or institution.
It is in this regard that HPM would like to bring to your attention another application lodged with this same authority. We hereby refer to PA/06546/07 for a development just across on the opposite valley ridge.
The relevant case officer reports are being uploaded here (in part). In both case reports the permit was refused.
HPM would therefore like to point out the many policies and regulations quoted by the respective case officers in justifying their refusals, for what is an integral part of the site we are fighting to save.
It is crucial therefore that regulatory procedures be initiated and action taken immediately in order to safeguard our rural heritage and to curn this gross abuse.
The evidence presented above, shows black on white, that this permit was not issued in accordance to a considerable number of policies and regulations governing such applications and subsequent permits in such sensitive areas.
MEPA’s own case officers’ reports list with eloquent clarity the full list of these measures, several of which have been in place well before 2009 and as far back as 1990, ie 12 years before the first application of 2002. And what about the following?
POLICY UCO 13:
Natural Resources in Rural Areas
The countryside and the coast are recognised as being two of the nation's most valuable natural resources. Together, countryside and coast provide the backdrop and raw material for much of the country's industrial, commercial, agricultural, and recreational activities. The intensity of use of these resources, and the delicate equilibria operating within and maintaining them, necessitate very careful management in order to harmonise the various uses of the countryside and coast and derive maximum benefit from them without their deterioration.
Recognising this, the Planning Authority will rigidly control development
of the countryside and coast in general, and particularly of aquifer recharge
areas and other important water catchment areas, afforestated areas,
of ecological and scientific importance, sites of scenic value,
coastal cliffs and sandy beaches, established and proposed bird sanctuaries, nature reserves, national parks, other types of protected areas, and of areas prone to erosion.
The limited land area and high population density result in strong pressure being exerted on the natural environment, particularly in areas which are relatively undeveloped. Many species, endemic and other valuable ones included, are threatened with extinction, while habitats are fast degrading. Some geological sites are in danger of complete obliteration, while many intrusive elements are spoiling the scenic value of the landscape.
The natural landscapes of the Islands are intimately related to agricultural activity. Both have to be protected from urbanisation, and conflicts between them have to be resolved.
We hereby conclude our own list of reasons, fully substantiated with fact and legal references, and demand that the required measures to rectify, and put a final end to this abuse be taken accordingly. HPM sincerely hopes that good sense and justice shall prevail, and that this unfair and undemocratic abuse of both nature and residential rights is curbed immediately.
It is not only MEPA that has a say when it comes to rural planning and conversation. The Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs have their own policies. Read more about them and also about relevant EU legislation here:
Other news and events:
To view our recent objection to a commercial development in Gharghur Valley kindly open this link: