Updated 7.30pm with Moviment Graffitti response

A full archaeological investigation found no cart ruts on a controversial development site in Kalkara, the Planning Authority has insisted after a permit was issued for 18 apartments and maisonettes earlier this week.

The PA said in a statementy that it had taken note of objectors' concerns that the site had archaeological value due to the presence of cart ruts and suspended the development application in January to allow for an investigation. 

"Following the completion of the archaeological evaluation report, the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage, which is the competent Authority and has the expertise to evaluate and determine archaeological sites and remains gave its no objection for the application to be given the green light," the authority said.

"Through this archaeological report it was confirmed that none of the alleged curt-ruts had been identified."

The authority also denied claims by Moviment Graffitti, one of the objectors to the application, that its representative had been silenced during the online public hearing that approved the development. 

The NGO had said the activist's microphone was switched off while she made an intervention on the application. 

However, the PA insisted that all objectors had been given the time needed to state their case, and that microphones had only been switched off when "the Planning Commission had heard all the representations and the discussion was exhausted, following which the Chairperson decided to proceed for a vote".

Moviment Graffitti stood by its claims on Saturday evening, saying the microphone had been switched off when the activist's intervention - drawing a comparison with other cases where cart ruts had not been given due protection - were deemed "out of point".

The site at Triq it-Turretta and Triq Patri Mattew Sultana in Kalkara is metres away from protected cart ruts, its proposed boundary falling squarely in the Class B scheduled site’s buffer zone.

Development works on site began earlier this year without a permit and were twice halted by the authorities. 

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