The Malta Independent 13 November 2019, Wednesday

Manoel Island: Tribunal accepts FAA plea on conflict of interest

Wednesday, 23 October 2019, 14:01 Last update: about 20 days ago

The Environment and Planning Review Tribunal has issued a decree accepting the plea of Conflict of Interest flagged by Flimkien għal-Ambjent Aħjar, the NGO said in a statement.

In the appeal, FAA’s lawyer Dr Andrew Sciberras pointed out that architect Edward Said, one of the experts engaged by Dr Paul Gauci to conduct the Environmental Impact Assessment of MIDI’s Masterplan for Manoel Island, was in fact the son of one of the directors of MIDI plc.

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Moreover, Edward Said’s architectural firm Architecture XV has been engaged by MIDI plc repeatedly as the responsible architect on various permits and projects forming part of the development of Manoel Island including PA 05216/10, PA 07964/05 and PA 01141/16. As one of MIDI’s responsible architects he should be automatically precluded from participation in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA).

It should be noted that MIDI in its reply through its lawyers, dated 17 October, is not disputing the veracity of any of the allegations mentioned by the FAA in its appeal to the Tribunal, FAA said.

FAA is appealing planning decision PA 8605/18 for the excavation of Manoel Island and the Masterplan itself PA 9407/17. Both these decisions were based on the Environmental Impact Assessment in question. In view of this conflict of interest FAA maintains that the assessment and permits should be nullified in terms of the Environment Impact Assessment Regulations.

The Environment and Planning Review Tribunal’s decision has acknowledged the validity of FAA’s plea and is allowing it to be considered as part of the NGO’s complaints against these two permits.

FAA said it will continue in its efforts to challenge the Manoel Island development which will have a huge negative impact on the residents of Gzira as well as on the traffic, air quality and landscape of Marsamxett Harbour, Sliema Creek, Ta’ Xbiex Creek and the area at large.

Manoel Island is the only remaining open space and green lung in an area which is increasingly becoming suffocated by large developments, increased tourism, vehicle traffic and the pressures of a rapidly growing population, FAA said.

Rather than a luxury development for high net worth individuals and businesses, the public would be far better served if Manoel Island is turned into a much-needed green heritage park and open space to be enjoyed by all, the NGO concluded.

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