The Malta Independent, 24th June 2008
Qui-si-sana and Tigne Residents Association deplored the fact that the Malta Environment and Planning Authority has seen fit to hold the Fort Cambridge board meeting well before the expiry of the 15-day period required by law, giving the association just one day to study the fresh plans submitted by the developers and submit its comments.

Moreover, the Malta Transport Authority has recently commissioned further traffic studies of the road network prior to the opening of the MIDI tunnel. Traffic to the Fort Cambridge project will have a major adverse effect on both air quality and congestion but no studies have yet been released. Furthermore, no social impact studies have been carried out, as requested by the Sliema local council and agreed to when the terms of reference of the environment impact assessment were decided upon, the association said.

“This is yet another instance in a chain of irregularities by the Mepa in processing this particular application. The fast-tracking of the application, the blind eye to the major deviations from the government’s development brief tender (which outlined 16 floors, a hotel and educational facilities and subsequently approved 23 floors with no hotel or educational facilities), the waiving of the requirement for an environment impact assessment which was then imposed by the EU, and the incomplete studies, are now followed by this blatant attempt to hinder the public’s access to the plans as well as to move to adjudication without all the necessary information at hand,” the association said.

It added that to hold the board meeting before all the relevant information has been collected and studied by the residents is a violation of the Aarhus Convention and the EU directive on access to environmental information.

“We therefore call on the authorities to prove their pre-election promises to the residents, and for the new Mepa chairman to demonstrate Mepa’s commitment to reform by ensuring that residents’ rights are safeguarded, in both the letter and the spirit of the law,” it said.