Planning Authority board member Timmy Gambin has denied any conflict of interest in relation to the controversial skyscraper development in Sliema.
Dr Gambin had been accused of having acted as a consultant to a Gasan-Tumas consortium tasked with building a new power station in Marsaxlokk. The same consortium is behind the Townsquare high-rise development approved by Dr Gambin and others two weeks ago.
In a right of reply sent by the Planning Authority to various media outlets, Dr Gambin said he had "absolutely no involvement with the Environmental Impact Assessments of the said applications," and that "claims that I may have had a conflict of interest and/or been involved in any unethical procedures in these particular cases are completely unfounded."
ERA representatives were present throughout both PA sittings ... these individuals had every right to comment.- Timmy Gambin
The marine archaeologist noted that PA board members were allowed to keep their private consultancies and practices, and that he also declared his involvement in EIAs to the PA board.
"When acting as an independent EIA consultant I deal strictly with the EIA coordinator and not with the applicant," he added.
Dr Gambin has also come under fire for having failed to read out a memo written by Environment Resources Authority chairman Victor Axiak during the PA meeting on the Townsquare project.
Prof. Axiak missed the meeting through illness, and subsequently said that he had given Dr Gambin permission to handle the memo as he saw fit. He has also denied allegations of a conflict of interest.
Dr Gambin emphasised this point in his statement, saying that "Prof. Axiak made it amply clear that I would be under no obligation whatsoever to use and/or communicate any and/or all of its contents during the public hearing. This stance was confirmed in subsequent clarifications sent by Prof. Axiak to the press."
He also suggested that other ERA members present throughout the PA hearings could have spoken up.
"According to established procedures, these individuals had every right to comment on any issues that may have been deemed to have any form of bearing on the discussions," Dr Gambin argued.
Furthermore, the ERA's environmental reports "did not contain an objection" to the high-rise developments and the authority had issued a number of conditions to be implemented if the projects were approved, he said.
Dr Gambin said that he had so far refrained from commenting due to the PA board's code of ethics "with regard to communicating directly with the press."