The proposed law to avoid damage to third party properties actually makes them more vulnerable because it removes the obligation of a geological investigation, according to geologist Peter Gatt. 

Dr Gatt told the Times of Malta that third party property owners are “worse off” with the proposed amendments as the geological investigation is not any longer an obligation but will depend on the arbitrary decision of the project’s architect.   

He explained that the 2013 version of the same legal notice imposes the requirement of a geological investigation for every excavation deeper than three meters. 

However, the amendment now states that a geotechnical design report may include a geotechnical investigation, if the architect deems it necessary. 

Dr Gatt said a geotechnical report is one which looks at rocks but purely from the point of view of the preparation of foundations. A geological investigation is more of an in-depth study of the rocks and their quality. 

“Before it was a requirement. Now it’s up to the architect to decide on something that he or she is not necessarily competent in,” he said. 

“It’s like telling an orthopaedic surgeon to perform an open heart surgery. By becoming arbitrary, in all probability the geological investigation will not be done.

“The way I see it, the new amendments are an erosion of the protection previously afforded to third party property owners who need most protection during excavation more than during construction. It just doesn’t figure,” he added. 

Dr Gatt also expressed concern that there is no register of geologists who can carry out such studies and that Malta is the only country in Europe which does not have a National Geological Service.

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