A permit to demolish a late nineteenth-century site on Manoel Island* “hoodwinked” the Planning Authority as it failed to declare the conflict of interest of a consultant who drew up a “fraudulent” EIA report, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar has warned.
The development is part of MIDI’s development of the island just off Gżira.
“Because of this fraudulent report, this cowshed used for the quarantine of cattle, which stood in the way of the MIDI development, was demolished despite the reservations expressed by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.”
“The SCH was therefore hoodwinked, as it gave its clearance without being informed of the conflict of interest of the consultant,” the FAA said.
FAA released the statement following a sitting in front of the Planning Board to get the permit revoked. The site that was demolished is a former quarantine cowshed that was most recently used as the venue for a bar called Funky Monkey.
The EIA report and the masterplan have already been annulled on the basis of a false declaration and conflict of interest of one of the consultants who drew up the EIA report. Despite this, construction has already begun and trees in the area have all been chopped down.
“The Planning Board decided to postpone a decision but changed the permit to one which is non-executable. However, this decision is not satisfactory as all permits issued by the Planning Authority based on the annulled masterplan PA9407/17 are based on fraud and therefore should be treated as null and void.”
“This outcome is unacceptable to Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar as it violates basic justice that nobody should be allowed to gain from fraud. This verdict indicates a tolerance of fraud which will inevitably encourage other developers to resort to fraud to further their interests.”
“As regards the demolition of a historic building, it is a classic case of too little too late, as the developer has succeeded in clearing his site, and no suspension of permit can bring a heritage building back nor mature trees back to life,” the FAA said.
In reply MIDI said:
“What is being claimed is absolutely untrue the building being referred to never had any historic value, it was a store built by the British forces and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage declared that the building “does not have cultural heritage value that would warrant its preservation.”
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