Letter sent to MEPA Chairman on Bahrija Development – RAM
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Below is a copy the objection sent by the Ramblers Association of Malta to the Chairman of MEPA today. The objection is self-explanatory.
When members of the Ramblers’ Association visited the site of the Bahrija development after works had resumed in spite of the fact that PA 7719/06 has now been revoked by the MEPA board, the office of Mr Martin Seychell (Environment Protection Directorate) was immediately contacted by telephone regarding the abusive works. This occurred on Wednesday 18th November 2009. No reaction whatsoever to this phone-call has been forthcoming from the Authority.
In our phone-call, we pointed out that no permit was affixed anywhere on site but an expired permit was affixed two days later, which appears to signify that the Authority had contacted the developer to put right this particular infringement.
On taking a closer look, it was discovered that the new works had gone beyond the foot-print of the development that had already been carried out before, and the water troughs that carried water to the adjacent field had now been buried beneath moved clay. In the new works, it is evident that the excavator has leveled a path beyond the existing foot-print and over the water troughs. This means that the development has now been extended beyond the former foot-print and continued to cause more damage to the sensitive site, interrupting part of the stream of running water.
RAM considers that these works represent a flagrant disregard of the Mepa Board decision of 13 August 2009, unless Mepa reached some unpublicized agreement with the developer. As far as we understood from that meeting of the Mepa board of 13 August 2009 that revoked the permit, the developer was obliged to get the authorization of the Environment Directorate before he could carry out any further works.
From the Mepa web-site this does not appear to be the case because the applicant is appealing the decision of withdrawal of the permit. We understand that since the permit was officially withdrawn the applicant has no right to carry on with the works.
In the light of the fact that MEPA has allowed works to re-commence, we would like to make the following observations in the hope that we can elicit a timely response from MEPA :
1. Since the MEPA Board held on 13 August, 2009 annulled the decision on PA7719/06 and the application reverted to processing through appropriate assessment, under what pretext was the applicant allowed by MEPA to carry on works earlier this month? What action does Mepa intend to take by way of enforcement on site and what penalties will it impose on the developer architect and contractor who carried out the works illegally?
2. It is reported that Mepa has approved a method statement for works to resume on the site. Can you please indicate under which valid Planning Application has this method statement been approved?
3. The applicant has fixed the permit in PA 05846 /04 on site, two days after works had resumed. This permit was issued upon an application “to delete condition 3 in order to confirm with condition 1 in PA 6321/02.” Since the permit for PA 6321/02 has expired on 1 May 2008 and since PA05846/04 did not request any extension to the validity of PA 6321/02, nor has the developer applied for any extension to PA 6321/02, how can MEPA approve a Method Statement when all permits pertinent to this site have either expired or else been revoked?
4. The architect of the relative Planning Applications had omitted in all four instances to show that the site was not on level ground, but subject to an incline of more than two metres. This false and misleading information was invoked when the MEPA Board annulled the decision on PA 7719/06, applying the relative clause 39A of the Development Planning Act. Since the previous applications were likewise vitiated by this false and misleading information , MEPA should have likewise revoked any extant permits. The fact that the MEPA board did not proceed to revoke the previous permits confirms that they were no longer valid for otherwise, they would likewise should have been subject to be revoked due to the false and misleading information submitted by the applicant. To our mind, the situation is quite straight-forward in the sense that there are no longer any valid permits for this site. However, should MEPA have any doubt on the matter, it should likewise proceed to revoke PA 5846/04 on the ground that false and misleading information had been submitted in the application.
5. In the illegal clearing of the site it has been realized that tons of clay had to be removed to get the area to level, even though this was not declared in the relative planning application due to the false and misleading plans. In the recent works, more truckloads of clay have been carried away with some being dumped close to the site. Such practice goes against the law yet Mepa has not given any satisfactory explanation as to why this law and many other conditions of the Method Statement were allowed to be broken with impunity.
Thus, I would like you to confirm that there are no valid permits on the site in question, that no further works will be permitted prior to the approval of PA 7719/06 and that enforcement action is taken for the works that have been carried out since 13 August 2009. Should it be your considered view that PA 5846/06 does allow the developer to carry on with the works, then, in the interest of coherence, I kindly request you to move to the revocation of said permit under section 39A of the Development Planning Act for the same reason as PA 7719/06 has been revoked.
Ramblers’ Association of Malta
PS We have today,10th December 2009, paid another visit to site and are to report the following:
There has been damage done to the concreted road beside the site because it has subsided and is giving way due to the removal of clay from the site, as you can see from the attached photos. Please confirm that these works had been monitored by the enforcement officers of Mepa, and carried out according to method statement
The size of the disturbed site has been increased in spite of the fact the the alleged permit now in force specifies a smaller footprint.
The board exhibiting the permits has been dislodged from its position and the permit forms removed, so that no permits were affixed on site.
The new method statement reportedly issued by Mepa last week, to which reference was made above, was not traceable on the mepa website. Mr Peter Gingell was contacted by phone yesterday and informed of the shoddiness of the works and the non-availability of the method statement.
More blue clay has been carted away from site, which is not permitted by law, because the site was declared level which it is not.
All of the above points to the most irregular of procedures and certainly does not conform to any method statement originally issued. You are therefore requested to put a stop to the works or else give a satisfactory explanation.
Ramblers’ Association of Malta