The Sunday Times / Malta Today
23rd January, 2011
I refer to a letter that appeared in your newspaper on Sunday 09th January 2011 under the header ‘Warning: Yet another ecological zone to be destroyed’ whereby Mr Peter Richards concludes that MEPA is about to issue a permit for the enlargement of the Portomaso project on a protected green area and create another ecological disaster like that in Dwejra. He calls on the Authority to practice what it preaches.
Firstly, it is impulsive of Mr Richards to insinuate that Mepa is about to grant planning permission for the enlargement of the Portomaso Project when this planning application is still in the process of being screened to determine whether an EIA update is required. So, to say that MEPA is about to issue this planning permit is completely incorrect.
The author, also makes reference to what happened following the filming at Dwejra last October as an ‘ecological disaster’. A report penned by independent and well-respected specialists, commissioned to carry out an assessment of the impacts of the filming activities at Dwejra, clearly concluded, that while there is localized rock surface damage ‘the disturbance represented by the deposition of the extraneous sediment has not compromised the integrity of the terrestrial biological communities within the SAC.’ While the Authority does not condone what has happened in Dwejra, facts must not be twisted.
Over the past two years, there is extensive evidence in Mepa favour to show that the Authority has put as its top priority the protection of the Maltese environment including ODZ areas. Where development is permitted, the Authority is continuously promoting the belief that this should be benchmarked against sustainable development principles. The numerous bold planning decisions taken by the MEPA Board in favour of our environment over the past months, together with the introduction of the new MEPA legislation, which amongst other measures prohibits the submission of planning applications that seek to regularize illegal development in ODZ and protected areas carried out after May 2008, is proof that Mepa…..is preaching what it practices.