Times of Malta, 18th September 2008 –

The St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation said it has been informed by Mepa that it has agreed to prepare the terms of reference for an environment impact assessment on the foundation’s proposals to extend the co-cathedral museum.

The foundation said it was informed through a letter that the Mepa board discussed the request made by the foundation for the terms of reference for the EIA regarding the proposed excavations. In its letter acceding to the foundation’s request, Mepa said: “Without prejudice to any decision which the Mepa board may take in future with regard to the foundation’s applications, the members felt that, in order to be able to take a properly informed decision on such a sensitive issue, more information was necessary”.

The letter also states that the Mepa board has instructed its planning and environment directorates to compile the necessary terms of reference.

The foundation welcomed the news, saying the move will pave the way for an independent and thorough EIA. It said it had consistently stated that an independent EIA is required.

Moreover, the foundation said that NGOs, other relevant organisations and the public will now also be given an opportunity by Mepa to give feedback – even at such an early stage – on the compilation of the terms of reference.

“The foundation has always maintained that it wants a transparent and independent environment impact assessment to ensure that all possible risks will be identified. An independent EIA will also go some way to reassure the public that all necessary steps are being taken. It is also positive that NGOs and the public will have the opportunity to have their say – even on the definition of the terms of reference – because ultimately everyone is working in the best interests of St John’s Co-Cathedral.”