The Malta Independent 3 August 2020, Monday

Environmental Impact Assessment for Gozo hospital redevelopment will not be needed - ERA

Wednesday, 15 April 2020, 12:16 Last update: about 5 months ago

The Environment and Resources Authority has said that the environmental impacts of the proposed Gozo hospital redevelopment plans are unlikely to be significant to the point of warranting an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and proceeded to mark that no such assessment will be needed.

Plans for Gozo General Hospital show that the proposed redevelopment will see a total increase of 151 beds on site.

Plans for the hospital had been submitted back in 2016, however are no longer available on the Planning Authority's website, and searching for the application will bring up a message that reads: "The application has not yet been fully submitted. Once the application is considered complete and is validated, all relevant details will be made available online"

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The Environment Impact Screening Assessment report however is available, and highlights that the proposal will include the construction of a new three-storey, 225-bed hospital building with diagnostic treatment, day care, surgery suites and clinical facilities. It will also include the construction of a single-storey anatomy centre, the renovation and upgrading of the existing general hospital building, whilst retaining the existing building envelope and the construction of a four-storey car park with 420 car parking spaces, which together with 101 parking spaces at grade around the site. In total, the plans show that there will be a total of 521 parking spaces.

"The total gross floor area of the proposal amounts to 29,860 m2 , including 15,753 m2 for acute care, 13,227 m2 for outpatients and long-term care, 300 m2 for the mortuary and 580 m2 for the anatomy centre," the ERA report read.

The Project Description Statement submitted by the applicant highlights that the redevelopment will provide for an overall increase in the number of inpatient and long-term care beds (from 280 to 431), which amounts to 151 beds.

The ERA documents read that the proposal was initially assessed in January 2017, whereby ERA had requested the undertaking of an EIA due to various unclear impacts that may be significant.

"However, following the submission of the revised proposal in February 2020, involving various changes such as the reconfiguration of the new proposed hospital building (massing reduced from four to three storeys, and receded 50m away from the plateau's edge), and including more detailed information on envisaged traffic generation and the geological characteristics of the site (which were unclear at the time of the initial screening) the proposal was re-assessed and re-screened. The above screening has concluded that due to the construction of the new proposed buildings (225- bed hospital building and multi-storey car park), the proposal may still potentially affect the visual amenity of the site (albeit to a lesser extent than previously envisaged), noting its prominent location on top of the plateau and the Rabat Ċittadella backdrop, and therefore the submission of photomontages is required. Furthermore, due to the envisaged increase in traffic flows generated by the development, certain impacts on the ambient air quality in the area during operations may be envisaged, and therefore an Air Quality study is to be undertaken."

ERA considers that the environmental impacts of the revised proposal are unlikely to be significant to the point of warranting an EIA, and that the aforementioned Air Quality study and the submission of photomontages would suffice to further assess the remaining issues. "Mitigation measures can then be addressed accordingly, directly through the mainstream development consent procedure. ERA will be in a position to issue its conditions once the required further studies/submissions have been addressed."


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