Civil Society Injunction in favour of studies rebuffed – eNGOs
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The Court has communicated its decision not to uphold the Injunctions instated by Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Qui si-Sana and Tigne Residents' Association, Friends of the Earth Malta, along with several residents, in the case of the Town Square project in Sliema, and Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Din l-Art Helwa, Friends of the Earth and Dr Marlene Farrugia, in the case of the Mriehel towers.
Astrid Vella of Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, in a statement this afternoon, said the the case has been re-directed to the Planning Authority Board's jurisdiction, and if necessary to the Appeals Tribunal.
"This option of fighting a case at Appeal after an abusive permit is issued, is the action presently promoted by the Authorities, nothing but a dishonest way to exhaust objectors and avoid doing the right thing," Ms Vella said.
"This Court is stating that the missing studies that are legally required by the Floor Area Ratio (tall buildings) Policy could be requested and provided at the Planning Authority hearing."
Ms Vella added that "the Planning Authority's claim that the studies "were indeed intended to be investigated in the hearing whose suspension the plaintiffs requested," does not satisfy the law as the eNGOs and other plaintiffs maintain that it is not acceptable to present outdated 2007 studies that fail to include the cumulative impact of developments built since then."
Furthermore, Ms Vella said,presenting studies at the hearing, as was claimed, "violates the Aarhus Convention and the relevant EU Directive:" – "The public participation procedures shall include reasonable time-frames for the different phases, allowing sufficient time for informing the public and for the public to prepare and participate effectively during the environmental decision-making."
"The court did not go into the issue that the Mriehel site was only added to the FAR (tall buildings) policy after the public consultation had closed. Still the court confirmed that the eNGOs had proven their interest through their work to increase awareness on environment and planning issues such as the proposed Mriehel towers which will invariably have an economic, public health, traffic, and environmental impact," stated Ms Vella.
"As the Judge has stated that the law grants the public a guaranteed right to wide and effective consultation before the decision-taking process, the plaintiffs look forward to the publication of independent, updated and accurate studies, undertaken by impartial and professional companies, well before the Planning Authority hearing on these projects," Ms Vella concluded.
Photo – View from Mdina to Valletta with the proposed 4 towers at Mriehel