The Malta Independent On Sunday
24th April, 2011
I refer to a report that appeared in your newspaper on Sunday 17th April 2011 under the header ‘NGOs claim Ramla developers accommodated again’ whereby both Flimkien ghall-Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) and Save Ramla expressed their disappointment that MEPA has granted developers another chance to further their appeal on redevelopment of the former Ulysses Lodge at Ramla L-Hamra in Gozo.
The Authority would like to clarify and bring to the attention of your readers a number of issues which have been wrongly interpreted and reported namely:
· MEPA and the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal are two separate, distinct and independent entities. When an applicant or a third party decides to submit an appeal against a decision taken by the Mepa Board or Commission, the applicant requests the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal to overturn MEPA’s decision. So, any statement that MEPA is inconsistent at having accepted that an appeal is made, when the developer only paid ‘a fraction of the appeal fees’, is completely incorrect. It is the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal which decides appeal case proceedings, and not MEPA.
· While both the outline and full development planning permits concerning the redevelopment of the former Ulysses Lodge, had been revoked by the Mepa Board on the 04th October 2007, the applicant had initiated two separate appeal cases against the revocation by MEPA of both these permits. One of the appeal cases was declared null by the Tribunal on a preliminary plea, while proceedings on the other case are still on-going. When the proceedings had started on the latter case in front of the Tribunal, it was Mepa’s legal representatives who objected to the appeal filed on the very grounds that the appeal fees had not been paid. The decision of whether the appeal could proceed lay consequently with the Tribunal, and not with MEPA. The Tribunal’s decision not to dismiss the case was based on Legal Notice 7 of 1993, whereby when an appellant does not pay the fee on time, the tribunal can give a time-limit when the fee must be paid in full. The appellant honoured this time-limit.
· The report also stated that at last week’s Tribunal hearing, the developer was given two months to submit a planning control application for the proposal of building 23 villa with pools. This is completely incorrect. At last week’s hearing, Mepa’s legal representatives presented to the Review Tribunal, a Court of Appeal decision Emm. Grima vs Mepa, which confirmed that any irregular declarations of ownership in an application, as was the case with this Ramla application, invalidates the application and consequently nullifies the appeal. The appellant’s lawyers rebutted the claims and insisted that the appeal on the decision of the outline permit should be decided on its own merits. The Tribunal deferred the case for its decision to 28th July, 2011.
· While the Authority appreciates and supports the work carried out by local eNGOs it stresses, that it is Mepa’s legal representatives who are defending, infront of the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, the decision taken by the Mepa Board to revoke the planning permits on this site against the appellent. Many reports seem to indicate that it is Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) and Save Ramla who are defending this case and not Mepa.