Ac­tivists to con­sider di­rect ac­tion in ab­sence of sat­is­fac­tory ex­pla­na­tion on Zon­qor drilling

● Amer­i­can Uni­ver­sity of Malta own­ers have not yet filed plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Neil Camil­leri

Kamp Emer­genza Am­b­jent – the ac­tivist group which came to promi­nence over the Ma­noel Is­land ac­cess saga – is con­sid­er­ing tak­ing di­rect ac­tion if no sat­is­fac­tory ex­pla­na­tions are pro­vided on ‘core drilling tests’ that are cur­rently be­ing car­ried out in Zon­qor Point, Marsas­cala.

This news­pa­per re­ported on the drilling tests last week af­ter news of the ac­tiv­ity in the area that could soon house the larger cam­pus of the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­sity of Malta was re­vealed by PN coun­cilor and ac­tivist Char­lot Cas­sar.

Mr Cas­sar has since claimed that the tests are be­ing car­ried out “with the bless­ing” of the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter but said he has not been told whether the drilling is cov­ered by the nec­es­sary per­mits.

The PN coun­cilor was told by the Marsas­cala coun­cil sec­re­tary that Mayor Mario Calleja had “ver­i­fied” with the OPM that the tests were ge­o­log­i­cal in na­ture. But Mr Cas­sar was left none the wiser as to whether the works were cov­ered by plan­ning per­mits.

The Mayor has now asked the coun­cil sec­re­tary to write to the Plan­ning Au­thor­ity so that the coun­cil is given a for­mal an­swer and ex­pla­na­tion.

Front Har­sien ODZ has also de­manded an­swers from the Plan­ning Au­thor­ity and pointed out that, to date there is no of­fi­cial ap­pli­ca­tion for the de­vel­op­ment of the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­sity of Malta on this site.

“Govern­ment should im­me­di­ately clar­ify the mat­ter, and the Plan­ning Au­thor­ity should im­me­di­ately state whether such works are cov­ered by a per­mit. The govern­ment should re­spect the pub­lic and be trans­par­ent on the sit­u­a­tion at Zon­qor, which was sub­ject to Malta’s big­gest ever en­vi­ron­men­tal protest in 2015,” it added.

Sadeen group does not have plan­ning per­mits

Kamp Emer­genza Am­b­jent also re­ferred in a Face­book post to the core-cut­ting tests tak­ing place at Zon­qor - “a pub­lic ODZ area which the Mal­tese govern­ment gave to Sadeen for pri­vate de­vel­op­ment.”

“Peo­ple should know that, al­though the con­tract be­tween Sadeen and govern­ment has been signed, build­ing in that area is sub­ject to ap­proval from the Plan­ning Au­thor­ity. To date, no ap­pli­ca­tion for de­vel­op­ment has been filed with the PA. Thus, it is ex­tremely wor­ry­ing that core-cut­ting is hap­pen­ing at Zon­qor when Sadeen is def­i­nitely not in pos­ses­sion of a de­vel­op­ment per­mit.”

The group said peo­ple have a right to know whether this is hap­pen­ing with the au­thor­i­ties’ ap­proval or oth­er­wise.

“Kamp Emer­genza Am­b­jent shall be con­sid­er­ing di­rect ac­tion should such core-cut­ting con­tin­ues in Zon­qor with­out any sat­is­fac­tory ex­pla­na­tion pro­vided.”

In com­ments to The Malta In­de­pen­dent, KEA mem­ber An­dre Cal­lus said it was too soon to speak about the type of di­rec­tion ac­tion that could be taken.

“For now we are wait­ing for an ex­pla­na­tion. If that doesn’t hap­pen there are dif­fer­ent av­enues one may take.”

KEA was in­volved in other ac­tiv­i­ties prior to the Ma­noel Is­land saga, in­clud­ing when it ‘oc­cu­pied’ Castille square in May in protest against the de­struc­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment and later on this year when it blocked ac­cess to the En­vi­ron­ment and Re­sources Au­thor­ity of­fices in re­la­tion to the high rise is­sue.

Orig­i­nally the Sadeen group had planned to con­struct a 90,000 square me­tre cam­pus in Zon­qor, en­tirely on ODZ land.

Af­ter a pub­lic out­cry it an­nounced that the project would be split in two – a smaller cam­pus would be based at the old build­ings along Dock 1 in Cospicua and a larger cam­pus mea­sur­ing 31,000 square me­ters will be based in Zon­qor.

It says that only 18,000 square me­tres of pris­tine land will be de­voured by the project.

To date no plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions have been filed for the Zon­qor site.

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