Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar is deeply disappointed by the Planning Authority’s decision to allow the development of the last remaining green lung in the densely built up centre of Luqa.
The project was originally proposed as five large apartment blocks that would have obliged the GAP developers to undertake environmental assessments. Three of the five applications were then withdrawn, thus avoiding this obligation. FAA argued that the PA’s approval of such splitting up of projects would further encourage developers to evade their obligations.
The two remaining applications amount to a total of 75 residential units which by the Planning Authority’s own polices qualify as a ‘major development’ requiring the developer to provide open space. However the Planning Authority simply ignored this policy and approved the development completely devoid of any open space, in spite of Luqa residents’ and FAA’s calls to save this last green lung, essential due its vicinity to the primary school, and due to the effects of over-development and air pollution in the area.
FAA commends the strong efforts of eNGO Representative Annick Bonello Cassar who highlighted the fact that such a large untouched area would harbour a rich diversity of flora and fauna that we our legally bound to protect. ERA representative Prof. Victor Axiaq emphasised that further development is aggravating water problems by limiting water absorption and increasing flooding, insisting with his PA Board colleagues that it is high time that a sense of planning is followed in the processing of permits. Ms Bonello Cassar declared that she was “ashamed of the decisions being taken by the Board”.
To add insult to injury, the developers strongly objected to a permit condition requiring them to fund a study of the area to ensure that any existing protected flora and fauna on site would be re-located, claiming that such a condition would set a dangerous precedent.
FAA commends PA Board Chairman Perit Vince Cassar for his valid contribution to the discussion and condemns the fact that other board members act only as facilitators of development, forgetting that the Planning Authority’s duty is to the community, and not to enrich developers.
By blatantly ignoring all the policies that favour open space and a better quality of life, and simply acknowledging those that favoured more development, through this decision the Planning Authority once again showed us that it is simply there to rubber-stamp development.