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Mepa omissions lead to destruction of archaeological site - NGOs
Heritage and environment associations and residents of express convcern about a Mepa permit to carry out a development on a site in the vicinity of the Skorba Neolithic Temples in Zebbiegħ.
4 August 2012, 12:00am
In a joint statement, the organisations explained that Mepa granted a development permit to build flats and garages on this site "even though the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH) had earlier made Mepa aware of its archaeological potential, which had blocked other applications."
They noted that in processing this application Mepa overlooked the illegalities perpetrated by the applicant in an earlier application.
The organisations added that the Superintendence was never informed or consulted by the authority about this application notwithstanding the known sensitivity of the area. Mepa told the organisations this omission was 'unintentional'.
Moreover, the organisations said the application site notice was never fixed properly on site, depriving residents of their right to object on time.
The associations and the residents called on Mepa to declare the permit null because of illegalities carried out on site by the application and submission false and misleading information during the application process.
In June 2010 residents of Zebbiegħ reported to Mepa and the SCH that excavation works being carried were going to destroy significant features, medieval ceramics and tombs amongst other antiquities, which are protected in terms of the Cultural Heritage Act, and would be in breach of the law.
The organisations added that a representative of SCH informed the architect responsible for the development about the considerable archaeological sensitivity of the area and ordered works to cease, however the works resumed until the Superintendence had to intervene on site to stop the works with the assistance of the police.
Mepa policy states that in the case of accidental discovery of archaeological remains during development, the contractor and owner shall stop immediately, ensure that the remains are not disturbed and notify the SCH and Mepa of the discovery.
"To add insult to injury, the developer has now applied to Mepa for an additional basement level," the organisations said.
They called on Mepa's EPC board "not to repeat past mistakes and to respect the SCH and Heritage Protection Unit's firm and clear disapproval of this new basement application."
"If this application is approved, it would signify approval of the outrageous, speculative destruction of the invaluable archaeology present on site, part of Malta's precious collective heritage."