The Manoel Island project, a massive investment by MIDI, which includes a hotel and luxury apartments, is to be reviewed in full by the Planning Authority.
The authority’s confirmation comes after questions were sent by Times of Malta following a press conference held recently by NGOs that oppose the project on several grounds.
Following representations by NGO Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal had annulled the environment impact assessment and outline development permit for the Manoel Island master plan.
The cultural heritage report that formed part of the EIA had been drawn up by the son of one of MIDI’s directors, raising conflict of interest concerns.
A group comprised of activists from 14 civil society groups last month held a press conference highlighting this and several other issues they have with the project.
They demanded assurance that there would be “full scrutiny of the planning process, including the public consultation periods established at law” before a new permit can be issued.
In answer to questions, a spokesperson for the Planning Authority said “the PA can confirm that, whether or not any changes may result as an effect of the revised EIA report, the outline planning application will still be processed and decided afresh by the authority.
“The authority has already communicated with the Environment and Resources Authority to start the review process of the EIA afresh. The Planning Authority will ensure that the process will remain transparent throughout,” the spokesperson said.
In a reaction, MIDI confirmed that a fresh EIA was being concluded and that this included the commissioning of a new cultural heritage report as well as an update of the studies forming part of the original document.
MIDI was replying to comments made by activists about how possibly significant cultural heritage buried at sea within the Manoel island coastline area was not assessed and graded.
The activists also criticised what they said were MIDI’s outdated traffic statistics for their preliminary traffic impact assessment report as well as the lack of health and social impact assessment reports.
In answer to further criticism, MIDI insisted all works carried out on the island so far were covered by valid permits.
Correction December 7: A previous version stated that a MIDI director's son drew up the project EIA. He drafted the EIA's cultural heritage report.
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