It never fails to amaze me how MEPA falls over itself – James Tyrrell
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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,
N. Ireland BT40 1PG