Harsien Patrimonju Mosti



According to the developers, the above structure is not a Girna at all and was built in the late sixties, if not later... read more about one of Malta's most shameful development permits and the ongoing struggle by several recognised organisations to save an internationally listed protected area from being destroyed for ever!

The following is a testimonial of shame.

It is the record on an ongoing struggle to revoke a permit on an internationally recognised and protected site which should never even have been considered. The whole area has an important rural heritage value and intrinsic beauty, further enhanced by its unique location in the heart of one of Malta's largest towns.

 Wied il-Ghasel

is listed as a

Nature Reserve

within the

‘World Database on Protected Areas’

managed by the

United Nations Environment Programme


& its

World Conservation Monitoring Centre


It is also considered to be so by the

International Union for Conservation of Nature

(The World Conservation Union)

In the
IUCN Management Category -
‘Protected Areas and World Heritage Programme’

he definition of a protected area adopted by
IUCN is:

"An area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed through legal or other effective means "

IUCN has defined a series of six protected area management categories, based on primary management objective

Wied il-Ghasel is listed within the third of IUCN’s six protected area management categories


Natural Monument: protected area managed mainly for conservation of specific natural features

"Area containing one, or more, specific natural or natural/cultural feature which is of outstanding or unique value because of its inherent rarity, representative or aesthetic qualities or cultural significance."


Such is the importance of the site in question and its contents.

This valley ridge is an internationally recognised area of importance

Despite its status, MEPA has approved a massive scale development RIGHT HERE!

The area within the blue lines is the approved development area 

One of the original rubble stone retaining walls destroyed

Rubble wall remnants being bulldozed despite permit conditions


An application numbered 03882/02 is submitted to the local planning authority with the idea of building a large old people's home on the valley ridge of Wied il-Ghasel. This is a ploy to get hold of an outline development plan. Once conceded, a fresh application is then placed with MEPA in 2005 for a massive commercial development, under a different name.

The first irregularity concerns the site notice. This was affixed to 3rd party property, several metres away from the facade of the relevant site, where it should have been placed by law.

The photo on the left has been taken from MEPA's own website and shows the said permit in the incorrect location. The other image shows where the notice should have been affixed.

2005 - 2009

Using their outline development plan, the developers discreetly submitted a new application: 05560/05. This was done in 2005.

In this instance, the application is in the name of another person who is in partnership with the first applicant. The site is the same however and instead of an old peoples’ home, the building is to consist of 24 apartments and 26 garages making it a definite business development.

The project was turned down by the respective case officers involved, but was brought forward for reconsideration and approved by the Development Control Commission on the 20th January 2009 after being refused the first time back in 2007.

So in February 2009, the developers, accompanied with their architects, started knocking residents' doors in order to carry out property inspections for insurance purposes. This came as a shock to the residents, for none had ever seen any of the development notices required affixed to the facade of the property concerned, as required by law. This in view of allowing any would-be objectors to submit their reservations to the authority concerned within a limited time-frame.

But here too there is yet another irregularity, for the notice was never affixed for the time-span required by law, forfeiting the residents' right to object, when it was the time to do so. An official complaint was forwarded to MEPA's chairman. Another was lodged with the authority's audit office.

The residents stated that since this issue has been going on for several years (since 2002), their eyes were always peeled in case of any signs of life at the said premises. Furthermore, they insisted that if any notices had been fixed to the wall, they would have objected at once. Since no notices were ever seen, this was not possible and the residents' rights could not be fulfilled.

To add insult to injury, when the whole residential area objected to this disaster, MEPA stated that the period for any reservations had long been closed, factually since 2005.

Over 20 residents submitted as many affidavits to MEPA stating under oath that the legally required development notices of intention were never seen in place on the facade of the property concerned.

No reply by MEPA's chairman other than an acknowledgement were ever received.

The immediate removal of the development notice and the fact that neither the developer nor the authority saw to the rectification of this severe shortcoming was directly consequential to their being denied the possibility of exerting their rights in making the necessary representations during the allocated time frame;

Such is also illegal and in contravention of Article 32(4) of the Development Planning Act.

During this same period (2009), another development was brought to a complete halt by MEPA after it transpired that the necessary site documentation was not affixed in the designated area as per current legislation. In this case however, it was far worse than that for the respective document was removed at once never to be affixed again. Irrespective of whether it was the developer's, the authority's or a joint duty and responsibility to ensure that the law is upheld, the residents and citizens of Malta should not be the ones to suffer the consequences.

It is clear that this application was intended to be kept 'discreet', considering the overwhelming opposition the development of these fields had met back in 2002 when the first application was put in, and consequently refused. 
The residents declared that since the 2005 case number and applicant name had changed, tracing the second application was practically out of reach.

As for the sworn statements (affidavits), no reply was ever received by MEPA, other than an acknowledgement. These affidavits were eventually submitted to court  along with a warrant of prohibitory injunction against the developers in 2011. This was not upheld however.

Going back to 2009, an appeal was filed with urgency by Nature Trust, in conjunction with another recognised objector: Harsien Patrimonju Mosti. The appeal is the only legal means available to counter this project.


In the meantime the first preliminary works on site commenced in the first weeks of March 2009. The development commences by the installation of scaffolding intended to screen off the entire area

On the 18th March 2009 HPM wrote to MEPA's chairman for the first time, requesting him to intervene and prevent the Girna, rubble walls and other rural assets from being destroyed. HPM also wrote to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and to Dr. Simon Busuttil to inform them about the matter.

Erecting the screen of shame

"No new physical development will normally be allowed on the sides of valleys and especially on valley watercourses except for constructions aimed at preventing soil erosion and the conservation and management of water resources."

Note the absolute proximity of the Valley bed and watercourse

20th March 2009

The noose grips tighter and as promised, the demolition has begun. Today we witness the demolition of a building that provides access from the road to the site. Despite commencement of these works, the appropriate 'green' notice is NOT AFFIXED on any part of the facade.

21st March 2009

HPM's campaign to save one of the most picturesque spots in the heart of Mosta was featured on One News last night and at


HPM is determined to save this interesting array of ecological features and fine examples of precious rural heritage in what is essentially the city centre.
PN MEP Candidate Dr. Alan Deidun, who has many a time written about the issue in his newspaper columns, has also offered his full technical support to residents and all objecting parties involved. His latest article may be found here:


MLP MEP Candidate Steve Borg has also condemned the development and visited the site last Friday.

On site nature fights back and during the night mighty gusts of wind throw a considerable section of scaffolding down. Workmen are unable to fix it this morning due to persistently strong winds and abandon the site by midday.

Although the fields have no voice, would this perhaps be Nature's way of telling us all that it does not want to be destroyed? What infamy!

But it shall take much more than just the wind to stop this development from proceeding, despite Nature's revolt shown here. In the meantime the Developers' architect visited was seen taking several photos of the Girna (Traditional & legally protected corbelled stone hut).

One wonders why this sudden interest in this protected structure NOW, considering that it was never mentioned in the application process! Also note the rubble retaining wall behind the 'photographer'.

In the Emergency Conservation Order request lodged with MEPA's chairman, HPM has called for the implementation of Article 39 A (1) of the Development Planning Act, (Chapter 356 of the Laws of Malta),
due to the applicant's failure to declare the existence of such a structure on site. The Authority may, only in cases of fraud or where public safety is concerned or where there is an error on the face of the record, by order revoke or modify any development permission granted under this Act. We urged Mr. Walker  to initiate procedures and take immediate action in order to safeguard our rural heritage.

Such structures along with the ancient rubble walls are also protected by Legal Notice 160 of 1997


(ACT NO. V OF 1991)

Rubble Walls and Rural Structures

(Conservation and Maintenance) Regulations, 1997.
(& L.N. 169 of 2004: (Amendment) Regulations)

2. The Minister hereby declares rubble walls and non-habitable rural structures as protected, in view of their historical and architectural importance, their exceptional beauty, their affording a habitat for flora & fauna, and their vital importance in the conservation of the soil and of water.

4. In these regulations, unless the context otherwise requires -

“rubble wall” means a dry stone wall, built in loose, unhewn or rough-dressed stones which stands by gravity and friction without the use of mortar ”.

“rural structure” means any traditional rural construction, and also includes any free standing boundary wall in Ashlar masonry (gebla tal-kantun) bordering upon a rural tenement.

SUNDAY 22nd March 2009

Early this morning three developers came onto the site and spent several hours tearing down one of the rubble walls. The police were alerted along with MEPA's enforcement team. When the latter came over, the developers stopped destroying the protected wall and left the site. One cannot but ask why the wall was ripped down today, on a Sunday, by men in smart-casual clothes. Since the site is pending excavation, one also wonders why anyone would bother to remove it by hand, and with such urgency and speed!

One also wonders why the developers, despite their assets and manpower, decided to tear this wall down in person rather than go for a Sunday drive!

The pile of stone below was one of the age old rubble walls destroyed this morning, despite it being protected by Maltese law!  

It also forms formed an integral part of a valley ridge and system listed as a Category III protected area: Natural Monument. In the great scheme of things, the manual destruction of this wall was not necessary at this stage of the project. So why would it be destroyed early on a Sunday morning? So let's see now, what's next? Shall we guess? See for yourselves. Gone!

This abuse was featured on One News tonight (repeat at 23.15hrs local time) as well as today's issue of Kullhadd and it-Torca.


23rd March 2009

Workmen are on the site again today. The development notice (green document) was seen affixed to the house overlooking the main road yesterday. There is no sign of it today though. The fields are void of workmen, who are busy right now demolishing the said house as to create a ramp and provide access for heavy machinery to be brought in.  The rape is now well underway as jack-hammers tear the house down. In the fields, the scaffolding damaged by the wind has not been repaired nor completed.  Every minute, the noose tightens. Soon another ecological site, rich with interesting rural heritage assets shall be gone for ever! HPM has written to MEPA about yesterday's events.

The house being demolished below shall give way to a large ramp. This in view of heavy machinery being brought down into the fields. 

In a statement, Moviment Graffitti supported Harsien Patrimonju Mosti and the residents of Mosta in their call on Mepa to revoke the infamous permit.

Press Release 23/03/09

Moviment Graffitti supports calls for the revocation of a building permit in Mosta.

Moviment Graffitti is showing its support to Harsien Patrimonju Mosti and the residents of Mosta and is calling on Mepa to revoke the permit and issue an emergency conservation order to protect the site from the construction of 24 apartments

Moviment Graffitti is urging Mepa to respect the decision taken in 2007 for the refusal of the construction on the beds of Wied il-Ghasel in Mosta, which site hosts a number of protected rubble walls and trees which are protected by Law. (For Maltese version click here: Verzjoni bil-Malti ).


24th March 2009

While the demolition of the house is now well underway, the developers have returned to the site, carrying on what was started last Sunday. Despite their considerable manpower availability, for several hours the said developers have been working hard and fast at destroying the rest of the rubble wall. This legally protected wall is situated in an area having no relation or significance to the rest of the works on site. Why have they decided to remove it at this stage and by their own hands? HPM duly informed MEPA's chairman and other officials in a position to address this concern. 

Today's incident was also reported by Maltastar.com. Click on this link to view the article: Further Destruction By Developers 

25th March 2009

Strong winds prevailed this morning toying with the branches of the many trees already cut down. The developers could be seen with their architects on the site, but no work seems to have been carried out. They were noted taking photos of the hut (Girna) again, taking measurements, going through plans.

There might be serious doubts about the developers' intentions but there is no doubt that the Girna was never mentioned in the application. The law is also clear in stating that the consequence of any omissions at application process, whether intentional (constituting fraud) or otherwise are unacceptable.

In view of the above, and also due to several other factors, last Thursday, HPM submitted a written request to MEPA calling for an urgent emergency conservation order and implementation of article 39A of the Development Planning Act as to cancel the permit.

It has also been confirmed that the rubble wall removed so hastily by the developers in person should not have been touched. Despite enforcement officers visiting the site on Sunday, the developers demolished most of its foundations yesterday, infringing orders to the contrary as well as the permit conditions.

The legacy of destruction

That wall had been there ever since, retaining the soil. Every stone prised out is a page torn out of our history and heritage. Soon there shall be nothing left. Just dust and more flats. More flats instead of what you see now. Sustainable progress and environment planning at their best of course.

The greatest insult remains the fact that not only is Wied il-Ghasel protected on an international level, but is specifically designated as a Natural Monument; indicated as an area of ecological, natural and typical importance. How could any authority even considering infringing such a treasure by allowing its ridge to be built in this manner. What about buffer zones and MEPA's own MOM 07 'Ecological Constraints Map' of 2006 which disallows most of the approved area to be developed in any way? Considering the price we are having to pay, in enduring this disaster, we deserve an answer, as do the people of Malta!

A separate incident involved the parking of a heavy vehicle on the pavement, dangerously obstructing pedestrian flow. Police were alerted as was the local council. The driver did not move the truck despite instructions for him to do so, claiming engine damage. When however, the truck was no longer needed there, it was driven off on its own power. The incident is recorded at Mosta's police station. Several witnesses were also present.


27th March 2009

HPM thinks that the Maltese people should be fully aware of what is going on in Mosta Valley. In view of this, a press conference was held today. Concern over this issue is not limited to the Maltese Islands and HPM is taking steps to make sure that this abuse is brought to light where it matters. People abroad are just as shocked by the approval of this permit, particularly since this is a world-protected site.

HPM's legal team and other consultants have also been scrutinising MEPA's case officer reports, policies and other documentation. Several other omissions and policy conflicts were highlighted, and the potential of vested interests relating to this project is not being excluded either.

HPM, along with Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA) , Nature Trust (Malta) and a Residential Committee held a press conference today at 3.00pm. Several journalists attended the event as more details were brought to light by the various factions. So far the event has been featured in the evening edition of the news by Television Malta and One News. The issue was also reported by the online edition of The Times of Malta and the web generated www.maltastar.com and DI-VE.com.

Excerpts of the statements made by HPM and FAA, along with more details may be viewed on Maltastar

28th March 2009

The press release was also featured on today's issue of the Malta Independent. FAA's press release also featured on GozoNews.com

The main section of HPM's press release as well as that of FAA may be downloaded here:

Press release issued by FAA.docx Press release issued by FAA.docx
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HPM Press Release 27.03.2009.docx HPM Press Release 27.03.2009.docx
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1st April 2009

Another Press Conference was held today, this time by one of Malta's leading Green Whistle-blowers & EU MEP Candidate (PN) Dr. Alan Deidun.  Media coverage may be found here: DI-VE.com

7th April 2009

The Wied Il-Ghasel issue was one of the main themes of yesterday's edition of 'Issues', hosted by Jonathan Attard on One TV. EU MEP Candidate (MLP) Steve Borg explained why the development permit should never have been granted and asked the Prime Minister, now at the helm of MEPA, to investigate why the permit was issued despite it being in conflict with so many policies and regulations. This includes the Mosta Environment Constraints Map MOM7 which clearly demonstrates that the majority of the land concerned is listed as an area of ecological importance and falls outside the permitted development boundary.

Four online articles have been featured on the European Commission's website:
Europe Media Monitor (EMM) NewsBrief. This site is a joint project of DG-JRC & Directorate General Communication of the European Commission.

9th April 2009

Dr. Alan Deidun held a follow-up press conference yesterday morning, while the issue is also being featured by (Super) One Radio news bulletins.

Yet another two well recognised and established entities, the Ramblers' Association of Malta (RAM) and the Federation for Hunting & Conservation (FKNK) have condemned the shameful permit by means of the following press releases dated 08-04-2009



The Ramblers’ Association of Malta (RAM) feels disillusioned that in spite of promises of reform MEPA continues to issue permits for major developments in areas like Wied il-Ghasel, a Natural Monument by International Standards.

MEPA seems insensitive by design. Some years back it undertook to protect the valley. Like NGOs it valued the special place that Wied il-Ghasel occupies in the Nation’s collective memory with its legendary and historical connotations. Not feeling accountable to anyone, the Authority now reverses its former decision. It goes against the legitimate objections and protests of civil society. 

 What is particularly disheartening is Government’s inaction in the face of civil society’s discontent and loss of faith in MEPA. Moreover the Government is responsible for the re-appointment of people who continue dishing out permits like these.  RAM observes that MEPA is paid out of public funds for the specific purpose of protecting natural reserves like living valleys and conserving special features like corbelled huts. Yet MEPA feels no obligation to justify its stand for deciding to allow their very destruction. The Authority feels it possesses the supreme power to reverse with impunity its own declared policies, and to ride roughshod over the consequent widespread protests of civil society. The defender has become offender, against whom the same civil society has to guard, at its considerable cost in time, effort and expense.

 RAM is four square behind the struggle of Harsien Patrimonju Mosti to protect Wied il-Ghasel, associates itself with Nature Trust in its relative court case against the Authority, and joins forces with other associations in their objections to this rude development.

Alex Vella

Hon Secretary

Ramblers Association of Malta



Wied Il-Ghasel…

 The Federation for Hunting & Conservation – Malta (FKNK) wishes to express solidarity with the ‘Harsien Patrimonju Mosti’ Committee and all Mosta residents regarding the destruction of Wied il-Ghasel that is ongoing at present.

Unfortunately and yet again, it seems that one of the few remaining valley ridges on the Maltese islands will be lost forever.  The area’s rich ecological, cultural, rural and aesthetic features, including traditional age old rubble walls and a ‘Girna’ will no longer stand.  The area is also an integral part of a tree reserve, however all is in danger of destruction in the name of progress.  

Lino Farrugia

Secretary - FKNK

Ramblers Association of Malta

15th April 2009

Considering the size and scale of this shameful development, and its detrimental impact to both the environment and valley system, as well as the residents, people of Mosta and general public, a request was made for the local council to take a stand over the issue. Following a meeting held at Mosta Civic Centre on the 8th April between the 'Wied il-Ghasel Residential Committee', HPM officials, and several residents, the council publicly declared itself against the development. This is the second consecutive council to oppose the project. The former council had objected strongly to the development. More details may be grafted from the newspaper article by David Darmanin on the latest issue of the 'Malta Today on Sunday'. The Wied il-Ghasel issue was also mentioned again by MEP Steve Borg on One Radio.

Sunday 26th April 2009

From today's issue of the Sunday Times:

Wied il-Għasel development permit 'unethical'

Site enjoys international protection

Caroline Muscat

The last standing ġirna in the heart of a Maltese town is on the site.

Objectors to a development in an internationally protected area of Mosta are alleging a conflict of interest and lack of ethics in the adjudication process.

They are saying the process was tainted since architects Joseph Bondin and Paul Buhagiar - who are involved with the project - sat on Malta Environment and Planning Authority boards for a number of years.

A Mepa spokesman confirmed the Development Control Commission B (DCC B) board took the decision on the Mosta application at Wied il-Għasel at reconsideration stage. Mr Buhagiar, one of two architects appointed by the developer Joe Micallef, sat on DCC B for several years.

The other architect, Mr Bondin, who was involved with the first outline application - for a senior citizens' home - sits on Mepa's Heritage Advisory Committee (HAC).

In 2002, Mr Bondin simultaneously sat on one of the DCC boards and the HAC while practising his profession. The HAC's role is to act as a watchdog over the DCC.

Mr Bondin is facing legal action over two separate cases of lack of ethics in architectural projects. Magistrate Carol Peralta filed one of the cases, claiming the authorities violated his fundamental human rights when they expropriated land he owned in St Julian's to accommodate developers.

The other involves a case in Żebbug, Gozo, where residents are accusing Mepa of irregularities when it permitted the development of a farmhouse outside the development zone. Mr Bondin was the architect named on the applications for both projects.

At the court hearing of the Gozo case last June, statistics drawn up by environmental organisation Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) showed that in three years, 29 of the applications Mr Bondin submitted for the Mosta area were recommended for refusal by Mepa's technical experts. Of these, 22 were overruled by DCC boards and planning permits issued.

The application for the Mosta development in Wied il-Għasel was made on September 6, 2005. Two years later, the DCC refused permission. Yet, the DCC B board overturned the original decision last January.

One of the main arguments brought against the development in Mosta is that the applicant did not mention the presence of the last standing ġirna (corbelled hut) in the heart of a Maltese town.

The site is listed as a nature reserve within the World Database on Protected Areas, managed by the United Nations Environment Programme as well as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Ħarsien Patrimonju Malti, which is also objecting to the development, classified it as a Category III - Natural Monument.

Residents said they were shocked at Mepa's permit approval and claim their rights were violated because the development site notice was not affixed to the premises for the length of time required by law. Twenty-four residents submitted affidavits to Mepa in this regard.

According to Mepa, one of the conditions within the approved permit specified that it is subject to written clearance from the Environment Protection Directorate regarding the demolition, or carrying out of significant alteration, of a rubble wall/ non-habitable rural structure. But before the EPD can decide, the appeal scheduled for May 15 must first be concluded.

In the meantime, residents said the developer has already demolished protected old rubble walls on site even though he was not in possession of the necessary permit.

HPM would like to point out that our name is Harsien Patrmonju Mosti not Malti. Furthermore, several organisations, groups, scholars and other 3rd parties, (constituted and otherwise) are objecting to this treacherous development. HPM was the first NGO to make this issue public and is also a recognised case objector.

The site is classified as a Category III Natural Monument by the

International Union for Conservation of Nature

(also known as the World Conservation Union) within its ‘Protected Areas & World Heritage Programme’  and not by HPM.

29th April 2009

The Case was featured again on the 26th of April in Gharlon Gouder's '606' TV Documentary with Steve Borg.
Another declaration of support by issued today by L-Ghaqda Tar-Residenti Ta' Santa Marija Estate, Mellieha. The Press Release is being reproduced hereunder:


 L-Ghaqda tar-Residenti ta’ Santa Marija Estate, Mellieha, tixtieq tesprimi is-solidarjeta u l-appogg shieh taghha lill- Harsien Patrimonju Mosti u tifrah lill-istess Ghaqda ghall-inizjattivi taghha biex Wied il-Ghasel ma jibqax isostni hsara u qerda kif jidher li huwa ppjanat li jsir. L-Ghaqda tar-Residenti ta’ Santa Marija Estate, Mellie?a , tikkonferma li kull ghaqda u NGO li ghandha ghal qalbha il-patrimonju Malti, is-sahha u l-integrita’ tal-ambjent taghna ghandhom mhux biss jesprimu l-appogg taghhom ghal din l-inizjattiva izda ghandhom ukoll joffru l-ghajnuna taghhom b’mod konkret sabiex b’sinergija shieha mal-Harsien Patrimonju Mosti, jaghtu sehemhom biex titregga’ lura din il-mewga ta’ qerda instigata minn spekulaturi rghiba u  sostnuta bil-komplicita’ tal-MEPA.
 Ir-residenti ta’ Wied Ghajn Zejtuna fil-Mellieha ilhom snin  jissaportu l-attakki tal-ispekulaturi fuq l-integrita tal-Wied u xebghu jaraw lill-ufficjali tal-MEPA jiddeciedu kontra l-indikazzjonijiet tal-Pjan ta’ Struttura minkejja l-pariri tan-nies teknici taghhom stess.
 Bhala chairperson tal-Ghaqda tar-Residenti ta’ Santa Marija Estate, nixtieq inwassal dan il-messagg ta’ appogg u solidarjeta lill-membri u attivisti taghkom. Fil-waqt li, f’isem shabi kollha, nawguralkom success fil-hidma habrieka taghkom, nerga nifirhilkom ghall-inizjattiva li hadtu u nsellmilkom mill-qalb

Sammy Vella ~ Chairperson

I am writing in my capacity as Secretary of the Ghaqda tar-Residenti ta' Santa Marija Estate - Mellieha,  as directed by my committee during the meeting held on the 16 April 2009, to express the full support of our group for your case against the destruction of Wied il-Ghasel by unscrupulous speculation.  The committee stands four-square behind your efforts with the Planning Authority to reverse the permit that should never have been issued and that smacks of irregular behaviour on the part of the develper as well as on the part of MEPA.

Alex Vella - Secretary

Ghaqda tar-Residenti ta' Santa Marija Estate - Mellieha

HPM would like to thank the committee and members of GRSME for its support and assistance, along with all those who have publicly expressed their concern. HPM would also like to urge more NGOs and journalists to investigate, understand, and propagate information about the severity of the destruction of this important site. HPM is here by the people and for the people. HPM is a fully independent entity composed solely from volunteers and does not benefit from any sort of state aid or funding. Considering the unfortunate state of affairs and current situation, HPM believes that it would not be in an ethical position to do so either.

HPM is concerned that apart from MEPA's visible hijack by the boards, several other entities originally set up to raise awareness and perform a watchdog role seem to have become reluctant to voice their concerns over several important issues including this case.

8th May 2009

The following letter is being reproduced here, due to the light it sheds

                                   On vested interests and ethics...

It never fails to amaze me how MEPA falls over itself - James Tyrrell

It never fails to amaze me how MEPA falls over itself to cover its tracks. Several weeks ago I wrote to the Maltese press regarding the proposed permit to build 24 apartments and 26 garages in Wied il-Ghasel, Mosta. Given the fact that not only is this valley Outside Development Zone (ODZ), but a nature reserve protected by UN environment protection gradings I decided to look into the matter. I discovered that two of the architects involved in this development have been Mepa board members for years and that one of them is sitting on the Mepa Natural Heritage Committee!

Now two weeks after my disclosure, Peter Gingell Marketing Executive, Mepa, has finally come up with a reply when he stated at the weekend "there are no architects presently sitting on the Natural Heritage Committee". Well, forgive me Peter for stating otherwise since the last time I looked at the MEPA website, this architect still featured on that board listing. Obviously the MEPA website cannot be relied on for updated, accurate information.

Going back to check on when the architect in question resigned from the committee, guess what? I found his name omitted from the 2007 listing, although he formed part of the committee in that year, and I furthermore found that the 2006 list all refers to 2005, not 2006! MEPA is either trying to hide something or is so inefficient, that it copied the wrong list into its Annual Report. Given that the country's development is in its hands I'm not sure which is worse!

Anyway, the point that Mr. Gingell has tried to distract us from is that when MEPA's DCC Board ignored the advice of the MEPA Case Officer to refuse the Wied il-Ghasel permit, and granted the all-important, legally-binding Outline Permit in 27 April 2004, architect Joe Bondin, sat on both a DCC Board and the Natural Heritage Advisory Committee. Being a major Out of Development Zone project, logic indicates that it should have been reviewed by this same committee. I have trawled all the way through the MEPA Annual Reports and I have not yet found anyone else who wielded power on two MEPA boards consecutively, so why was architect Joe Bondin given this privilege?

Furthermore, unlike the first permit the second one claimed that the site was inside the building zone. And guess what (again!) this meant that the application was submitted to the same DCC B board, which at the time included Mr Paul Buhagiar, the project's second architect! If there's no ethics committee at MEPA, what about the Chamber of Architects? Is it a case of the big sleep?

Mr Joe Bondin has now applied to sanction abuse and build extra floors onto the boathouses at Mgarr, Gozo, and to build a supermarket stretching right across the Xewkija-Xaghra Valley. Who's to bet that we're in for more Dwejra and Safi scandals?

MEPA is one Aegean stable that even Hercules would be reluctant to clean out. Mr. Gingell, I may only be an interfering foreigner, but I can quote another foreigner to you: "You can fool some of the people, some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people, all of the time."

James A. Tyrrell,
5 Lower Cairncastle Road,
County Antrim,
N. Ireland BT40 1PG



15th May 2009

The first sitting of Nature Trust's appeal was heard today.  Dr. Philip Manduca and architect Carmel Cacopardo led proceedings obo Nature Trust Malta. A request was made to the Appeals Board to issue a directive aimed at stalling any works on site until proceedings are exhausted. The board replied that is was not enabled with such authority and could thus not accede to the request.

It does not take much to see how ridiculous this is, for had the appeals board to decide in favour of saving Wied il-Ghasel, at some point in the future, there would be nothing left to save by then. And once this precious swathe of land is destroyed, the damage would be irreversible!

Considering that the next sitting is due for the 24th July at 4.00pm, this eventuality is a disturbing  reality. For several years, FAA have been pressing for the powers of the board to be extended as to ensure proper and fair justice. HPM and NTM, along with several other similar entities and organisations have also lamented at the procrastination by the authorities concerned in finally ratifying these reforms, along with those involving MEPA and the entire system.

HPM would like to refer to George Pullicino's press release from early 2008, in his capacity as Minister and formerly overseeing MEPA, stating that such legal reforms and amendments were in an advanced stage and already within the second reading phase in parliament.

And what about his successor's election time campaign assuring us all that conservation and reforms would be amongst this government's top priorities?
Has our prime minister forgotten smiling at cameras and shaking hands with hon. G. Pullicino with a Girna in the background, while declaring his personal and political, social and moral commitment in safeguarding the last few remaining Girnas left.

For how much longer and to what extent are we, the people of this nation, going to sit pretty and allow those who we have entrusted with our assets and future to constantly lie to us and betray us?

Not showing the truth or exposing partial truths is no less than deceit and equitable to lies. Why have the media factions belonging to the party in government not given this issue proper coverage. Does the segment of people that depends mainly on such means to keep updated not deserve to know that a world protected site is just about to be obliterated and has already been damaged illegally?

Should not this segment of the media be illustrating what steps are being taken to rectify this sacrilege and for MEPA's own policies to be adhered to without exception or prejudice?

And if nothing significant is being said about it, would it mean that such a case is perhaps an embarrassment to the said party?

Several NGO representatives, residents and a number of journalists attended the appeal. MEP Candidate Steve Borg, formerly an active administrative member of both Nature Trust Malta & Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna.

In the interim of all this, works on site have been stopped due to the destruction of the retaining rubble wall described here earlier. They shall remain so for the better part of the next two years.

And in the fields, Nature has spoken again in its unique way. Several red flowers have formed a circle around the two piles of stones ripped out of the wall. A good look at the images clearly shows that the fields are otherwise devoid of red petaled clover. From a distance they look like drops of blood, from closer a wreath of sympathy...

The worse is yet to come however, as you can see by reading on in our second part of this tragic and ongoing saga. As it stands, unless the competent authorities decide to put a decisive stop to this development, this testimonial of shame shall be all that remains of this world recognised site.