AUTUMN - DECEMBER 2011 & 2012
Last appeal hearing concluded. Decision in June 2012!!!
last appeal sitting was held on Tuesday, the 20th September 2011 at
11.30am. Two representatives of the authority were called in to testify.
The issue discussed concerns one of the major bones of contention: The
fact that the greater part of the land granted for development is
designated as an Area of Ecological Importance. This is indicated on
MEPA's own servers.
witnesses borne by the authority's representatives, which included a
director, were at best very lacking, as anybody present in that room
of the questions asked by Nature Trust's case architect, Carmel
Cacopardo were clearly replied to and showed a wholesome lack of
detailed knowledge about this case or preparation for this sitting.
any case, the board adjourned the hearing for the 20th June 2012 (!),
on which day the final decision shall be proclaimed. Nature Trust was
given 2 months to submit its claims, which were duly posted on November
this case is one of many still being reviewed using the former system,
the developer is allowed to proceed irrespective of the pending appeal
board being aware of this and that works are underway, no effort was made to move this decision date
forward. Considering that preliminary rock cutting works have already commenced, by June next year there would be nothing to save other than a huge gaping hole.
HPM asks what is the validity of allowing this to happen, then ruling
against the developer and making sure he returns to site to its original
The least the board could have done to mitigate the damage and prevent
the developers from losing time, resources and money, would have been to
assign an early decision date.
But this only makes sense if the developers are actually ruled against. On
the other hand, if the Appeal Tribunal decides in favour of the said
developers, all will simply proceed with normality and the project would
carry on unhindered.
Hence, if one had to go by logic, and also
take into consideration the ample confidence generated by the
developers, then the probable outcome of this appeal is of major
delayed is no justice as much as ruling in favour of saving something
that has just been obliterated. In this case, the date for the decision
has been set 9 months ahead of the last sitting, 7 of which shall be
needed to review the facts and take a decision.
far as this goes, one can only wait and see. We sincerely hope that our
concerns do not become a reality. All we seek is justice after all!
If it is just to destroy the heart of a world recognised site in favour of concrete flats and garages, then so be it!!
December 2011HPM is reproducing a report made to Mr. Walker in his capacity of MEPA Chairman submitted on November
30th, 2011. In Essence it gives a clear idea of what is going on within
Wied Il-Ghasel's core. It also reveals the general attitude of the
developers in question, and also that of our Environment Planning
Dear Mr. Walker,
Tuesday, the 29th November, 2011, representatives of HPM, FAA and Wied
il-Ghasel Residential Association called at MEPA for a meeting with your
director of enforcement, the regional manager, and 2 case officers
presented a report showing that the Girna has been damaged despite
several conditions and a hefty bank guarantee having been set by the
Authority. Photographic evidence supported our claims.
are reproducing our evidence as presented to Mr. Alex Borg (black text
only) in his capacity of Director of Enforcement at MEPA as well as the outcome of our efforts.
would like to draw your attention to the yet another serious breach of
permit conditions related to case PA/05560 at 146/148, Constitution
Earlier this year, the developer resumed works on site after having been suspended by this authority in 2009.
works however were carried out in haste and with major disregard of the
stipulated conditions, prompting HPM to update MEPA about this lack of
adherence. This was duly verified as per your report dated 01.08.2011
whereby works on site were suspended for the second time.
the last weeks, works have been carried out to rectify the damage and
breaches committed so far. However it transpires that trenching works
have also been resumed, specifically by means of a rock cutting machine.
hereby are submitting evidence of yet another act of defiance in the
face of this authority as well as our own. Despite a hefty financial,
and all sorts of other guarantees, as per MEPA’s own press release about
such, the Girna has suffered the first damages.
trencher (shown above) was allowed to run into the foundation stone of
the corbelled hut cutting a deep swathe into the structure. This damage
is permanent and irreversible. Damage by the considerable vibrations
created by such large machinery has also occurred but needs further
examination and in its greater part may be latent. This is highly
probable when considering the fragility of such huts, due to both their
age and construction method/s.
this in view of the fact that irrespective of whether this was a direct
attempt to damage, or even destroy the Girna or an ‘accidental’ cutting
of its base, the developer was clearly instructed to keep away from it
and take specific measures for its protection.
rubble wall which constitutes an integral part of the structure has
also been considerably damaged when the prickly pear bushes were
to trees and similar shrubs on the other side of the wall, belonging to
third parties has also been noticed. This damage could have been
avoided had the developer notified the owners of the adjacent property
to be present and had other means to remove the prickly pears been
adopted rather than the large bulldozer used.
(Photo taken in adjacent property showing some of the damage to trees.)
large tree in the same property with some of its branches hanging over a
high wall was damaged due to these branches having been snapped and
broken off rather than cut with the required diligence.
expects that immediate regulatory action be taken at once and that the
damages be examined and duly rectified. HPM is calling for the
revocation of this permit due to relapsing nature of the developers as
well as repeated disrespect towards the permit conditions as well as the
Secretary - Harsien Patrimonju Mosti.
for the meeting itself, when we confronted the enforcement officials
with the photos above, they insisted that no infringement had been made
since the cutting was done at the base and under the Girna, and this was
permissible since the developers had permission to excavate a number of
storeys underneath it.
our end, we argued that granted that this was the case, excavating
under it is different from cutting directly into its base. At that
point, one of the officers had the boldness to put forth an assumption
that perhaps the developer did so in view of running an iron beam
through its base, perhaps in order to strengthen the structure.
of our conclusions about such an idea coupled with our disbelief and
surprise at his attempt to explain why the developers might have done
such a thing, this is no less than an admission in front of his own
superiors and 5 witnesses that the act of cutting through the base /
foundation did occur. This contradicts earlier claims, that the Girna
has not been touched.
statement however also brought to light another extremely disturbing
factor, namely the attitude we were met with. Although we were cordially
greeted, the executives immediately lapsed into a highly defensive
wonders why, since if things are as they should be, and as stated to be
on paper, environmental NGOs and heritage watchdogs are allied to
Enforcement bodies within the Malta Environment Planning Authority and
neither rivals nor foes.
since both should be following the same aim, such being the protection
of our assets, particularly those of importance and covered by law.
were considerably disturbed at the lack of objectivity one would have
expected from these officials, and particularly the case officers. One
more than one occasion, the Director requested his officers to tone down
their constant attempts at justifying the developers' actions.
example of this relates to their insistent claim that it is not in the
interest of the developers to lose their guarantee and have nothing at
all to gain from the Girna's demolition!
people are employed to monitor such sites/ cases looking out for any
irregularities, be they intentional or otherwise, and to take the
necessary regulatory action as determined by law, by their job
specifications, and by the very mission statement of the authority they
we cannot understand how these, of all people, are trying to justify
and dismiss each and every of our claim, despite being shown photos of
the damages, which may be seen and verified by all here. As far as this
is concerned we leave the burden of drawing conclusions to you!
was through them that we learned that some stones from the Girna's base
had been shaken out of place and come lose, but were re-inserted in
place by the developer. Although we were not aware of this factor before
this meeting, it only proves what we stated about the other less
immediately visible damages created by an incursion made into the
structure's base and directly under it by heavy machinery.
questioned, the developers said that unidentified 3rd parties had
prised the stones lose. One wonders how such an act of sabotage that
might cost them thousands of euros and further complications was not
immediately reported to the police!
since the stones were put back in place, the inspectors did not deem
fit to take any regulatory action. This despite the fact that the
developers should not even have come close to the Girna, since it should
have been surrounded by large stone blocks BEFORE any works on site
have begun. This was specified by their own director.
is also in contrast with MEPA's press release of last spring where it
was made clear that no tolerance would be shown of any damage is done to
this structure and unless immediate steps are taken to preserve it in
a direct question by their director, the inspectors confirmed that the
extent of the said incursion is between 4 and 5 feet in diameter and
extends from one outer side right down into and under its wall and base.
report also makes reference to damage to 3rd party property, which in
part happens to be a boundary rubble wall. This wall is the very same
that constitutes one of the Girna's sides.
reply to our claims we were duly informed by the Director Borg that
they had instructions to monitor and protect the Girna, but made it
clear that no mention had been made about the wall.
inquired how this was possible since the wall and the Girna were one
and the same structure, also making reference to the documented fact
that while similar stone huts dot other countries around the world, the
only place on Earth where examples built directly into rubble walls is
meeting was then concluded as follows. Our claims shall be forwarded to
the heritage unit who would then decide whether any action is to be
taken with regards to the damage of the Girna and its wall. At worst the
developers will lose their bank guarantee, but despite everything, work
shall still be allowed to carry on.
for the developers' views and intentions, these are clearly perceivable
in a report drawn up by their consultants 2 years ago stating that
since the Girna does not feature in survey sheets before 1968 it is a
pseudo-girna built after that period. The last clause of their report
states the following:
In view of the above (points 1.1.-1.5 all related exclusively to survey
sheets), a definitive dating to the rural structure must be post-1968.”
rest of the report follows suit in attempting to dismiss the value of
this Girna, and bears heavily on the ‘fact’ that it is a “small rural
room dated to the later part of the twentieth century” and concludes
that “The vernacular value of this particular rural room is less than
that of a pseudo-girna.”
yet, we hereby present images from the 1940s as well as the 1880s
showing the fields. Not only was the Girna already there, but one can
clearly see that it is the only, and oldest structure / building in the
Above: 1880 circa Below:1943
might also add that all the examples of Pseudo-Giren in the book the
term was borrowed from are indeed 20th Century structures. These images
prove, in part, that the the Girna in Mosta is not a 20th Century
structure, as claimed by the consultants obo the developers.
any case, there is no doubt that the developers concerned do not value
this protected structure and have consistently relapsed in showing total
disregard towards the conditions imposed by the authority. Conditions
which are compulsory and to which the permit is directly subject to and
that have been broken in several ways and on several occasions.
view of all the above, can you please instruct the integrated heritage
management team to start immediate proceedings leading to an emergency
conservation order. Additionally to the ECO, we are again requesting
that measures be taken at once to prevent any damage, intentional or
otherwise to both the corbelled stone hut (Girna) and the network of
interesting rubble walls, some of which have already been damaged.
is crucial that these procedures be initiated and the applicable
regulatory action taken immediately in order to safeguard our rural
heritage. This should include the revocation of permit PA/05560/05.
Secretary ~ Harsien Patrimonju Mosti
No comment was ever received from MEPA about our complaint.
7th January 2012
PRESS CONFERENCE WITH ALTERNATTIVA DEMOKRATIKA
press conference was held today by Alternattiva Demokratika and HPM.
This is the 2nd time AD has held a conference on site. Michael
Briguglio, Carmel Cacopardo and Robert Callus, spoke on behalf of AD.
Jonathan Paul Cuschieri made a statement on behalf of HPM. Astrid Vella
was also present on behalf of FAA and the Ramblers were also
represented. The latter issued a statement too. Media reports about
today's event may be viewed by following these links. The case also
featured in the evening edition of PBS News, (State TV).
the conference was being held, the Developers worked overtime, it being
a Saturday, and could be seen removing large quantities of debris
constituted of boulders torn out of the live rock over the past weeks,
being aware of our presence, no measures were taken to comply with the
conditions of the permit, and a revised set of instructions issued in
mid-2011 by Enforcement Director Alex Borg.
these instructions, it was made clear that trucks should only leave the
site after their tyres and undercarriage have been cleaned from the
soil and mud, with a power-wash that has to be affixed in an appropriate
calling MEPA's enforcement, an officer was dispatched. Despite
photographic evidence of the mess, no regulatory action was deemed
of the developers was then seen attaching a hose to the water supply.
The fact that this was done last Saturday, and not immediately prior to
recommencing works again last Autumn is yet another relapse on the part
of the Developers.
again, the authority and everyone else have been defied and the law
ignored. The imposed conditions were flagrantly ignored and trucks have
been leaving the site with unwashed tyres ever since and to date.
Carry on reading about the most recent mishaps in our beautiful valley in our next, and final page:
SOS Wied il-Ghasel Page V