The Planning Authority has pushed back against Birdlife Malta claims concerning a proposed development close to the Simar nature reserve, saying other, similar buildings have already been approved in the area.

In a statement sent to Times of Malta on Wednesday, the PA said that a photomontage provided by the activist group was “incorrect and completely misleading”.

“The photomontages portrayed have nothing to do with the approved project in question and serve only to confuse your readers,” a PA spokesperson said. “The proposed building block - which will be significantly smaller than the ones shown in your article - will be built on and facing Triq il-Hagra il-Wieqfa – a road parallel to Triq il-Pwales - from where the Natural Reserve isn't even visible, if not from its back.”

The photomontage in question was provided by Birdlife last week, when it flagged approved plans to build an apartment block across the street from a nature reserve it operates. The plans were given the green light by the PA in May. Birdlife is now appealing that decision.

The contested photomontage, provided by Birdlife Malta.The contested photomontage, provided by Birdlife Malta.

In an email sent accompanying its press release, Birdlife said the photomontage showed “how Simar Nature Reserve will be impacted with this development.”

But when contacted on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the activist group clarified that the photomontage shows what the view from the Simar Nature Reserve will be should two-storey dwellings in the area all be replaced with seven-to-eight storey blocks.

The spokesperson noted that the photomontage was correctly described in a caption included in the press release itself.

The PA has defended its decision to approve the project, saying “this type of building isn't unique to the zone”.

Above left: Elevation on Triq il-Pwales (facing the reserve) as proposed. On the right, elevations on Triq il-Hagra il-Wieqfa. Windows do not face the reserve. Photo: PAAbove left: Elevation on Triq il-Pwales (facing the reserve) as proposed. On the right, elevations on Triq il-Hagra il-Wieqfa. Windows do not face the reserve. Photo: PA

“In line with the 2006 Local Plans, Triq il-Pwales has comparable building commitments, with examples from the 80s. There are approved permits for other apartment blocks immediately adjacent on the left-hand side.”

The PA also noted that the Environment and Resources Authority had no objection to this project.

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