Update 3.30pm - Adds PN statement

Environment Resource Authority chairman Victor Axiak is "not yet ready" to share his thoughts on the planned skyscrapers in Mrieħel and Sliema, given that the ERA has yet to decide whether to appeal the Planning Authority's decision to green light the developments. 

Prof. Axiak, who sits on the Planning Authority board, was roundly criticised by civil society organisations for having missed the controversial hearings due to illness. 

In a personal statement sent to the media, Prof. Axiak said he had submitted a request asking to nominate a proxy to the board when members could not attend "well before this matter erupted." 

He said the PA board chairman, board secretary and Environment Minister had been informed of his inability to attend the meetings on August 2, the same day he was discharged from hospital with instructions to rest for at least two weeks.

Prof. Axiak defended his decision to hand the memo outlining his thoughts to a solitary board member, Timmy Gambin, saying he did this to avoid exerting "unjust and unfair" pressure on other PA board members. 

"With hindsight, I do not expect others to share this view, but that is not my problem," Prof. Axiak wrote, adding that he had full faith in the integrity of all PA board members. 

Dr Gambin chose not to read out Prof. Axiak's memo about the Sliema Townsquare project during proceedings.

"I had specifically asked this member to make use of my memo as the member may seem fit, during the discussion. Furthermore we agreed that this would not in any way condition the way such member would be voting," Prof. Axiak noted.

On August 4, the PA gave the green light to a 38-floor skyscraper in Sliema, and another four in Mrieħel.

'We are watching you' - CSN

In a reaction, the Civil Society Network urged Prof. Axiak to make his memo publish, arguing that all correspondence between himself, the ERA and the PA board should be published. 

It argued that the PA's decision to approve skyscraper plans ran counter to existing policies and was made despite the absence of a masterplan on high-rise development. 

"Civil society is closely watching ERA's actions and expects it to put the environment before other considerations," the network said. 

Prof. Axiaq's observations should be published immediately

In a statement, the Nationalist Party said insisted that Prof Axiaq's observations, which were kept secret during the board meeting, should be published immediately.

The observations were intended to be read out but this was not done so at the very least should be made public.

It was also of concern that Prof Axiaq's request for a substitute to be nominated in his absense was refused. Moreover, no action was taken by the Environment Minister.