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Posted on: 10/06/2007

reaction_ramlaThe Malta Environment and Planning Authority convened a press conference to clarify the many inaccuracies in verbal and written statements appearing in the media concerning the approval of PA 7902/05, the re-development of the former Ulysses Lodge. MEPA Chairman Mr. Andrew Calleja deplored the attitude being taken by a particular NGO. Referring specifically to comments made by Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Mr. Calleja said that henceforth, while safeguarding all the legal rights this NGO had, it would be under boycott with requests for meetings until such time it decides to substantiate or withdraw the serious accusations levied at the MEPA Board members.

During a presentation to the press explaining, in detail the nature of the development, MEPA highlighted that the development was taking place following the approval of the outline development application two years previously. None of the issues raised today had been raised at the time of that approval.

The application which was approved on the 6th June 2007 consisted of a re-development of an already disturbed land area with some exception on the construction of swimming pools situated just outside the committed footprint. The disturbed land, formerly the Ulysses Lodge, constitutes approximately 17% of the total land area owned by the developer. The development will be limited to this area and it is inconceivable how the newly approved plans could have been interpreted as constituting an increase of several times on the outline permit.

During the evaluation of the outline application, MEPA had requested from the developer several studies of the area including an ecological, geo-technical and archaeological assessment. These studies were considered to be of enough detail to enable MEPA to waive the requirement for an EPS. As a result of the mitigation measures suggested in the studies carried out, MEPA had also requested the inclusion of 23 reservoirs so that the run-off water does not further erode the bay area, in particular the sand dunes. The archaeological studies were based on "extensive field surveys and archival research" and "found no archaeological features in the area to be developed close to Calypso Cave".

With regards to comments made by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, MEPA Chairman said that it had the full right given to it by the Cultural Heritage Act to issue an Emergency Conservation Order for the site if it deems that the permit issued constitutes a peril to any archaeological features in the area. He said that when one sees the considerable press coverage the application had received over the past years, it is inconceivable to say that one was not informed on the proposed development since this had been accepted in principle way back in July 2005. Mr. Calleja added that instead of sending an email on the day of the public hearing, the Superintendence could have easily attended the meeting and after informing itself of the facts took whatever position it deemed necessary in the light of its legal obligations. "MEPA will no longer be used as a screen for other organisations" warned Mr. Calleja.

MEPA also made it clear that for the very first time, it had obliged the developer to enter into a public deed to ensure that the development will remain a tourist complex and cannot be changed into a residential area.