Manoel Island project permit revoked, developers have to redo EIA

Manoel Island projects hits major snag after Environment and Planning Review Tribunal revokes permit and orders developers MIDI to prepare new Environmental Impact Assessment

The Environment and Planning Review Tribunal has revoked a permit for the
The Environment and Planning Review Tribunal has revoked a permit for the

The Manoel Island project has hit a major snag after the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT) revoked the project's permit and ordered the developers, MIDI, to prepare a new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), a process which can take months.

While previous successful appeals had resulted in the application being sent back to the final stages prior to the case officer report and board decision, in this case the blow for the developers is even more devastating as they will have to commence their studies from scratch.

The appeal had been presented by environmental NGO Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA). In October the EPRT had accepted a plea of conflict of interest raised by the FAA, over the environmental impact assessment for MIDI’s Manoel Island masterplan. The crowd funded appeal had been presented  by the citizens’ group Inħobbu l-Gżira which launched a petition asking parliament to turn Manoel Island into a national heritage park. Over 8,000 signed the petition offline and online, the highest number of signatures for an environment related parliamentary petition in this legislature.

In the appeal, FAA’s lawyer Andrew Sciberras pointed out that architect Edward Said, one of the experts engaged by Paul Gauci to conduct the EIA of MIDI’s masterplan for Manoel Island, was in fact the son of one of the directors of MIDI plc – Joe Said, the Lombard Bank chairman.

The permit for the construction of 610 apartments at Manoel Island was approved on in 2019 by the Planning Authority with only one member- NGO representative Annick Bonello- voting against.

The approved permit was an amendment to the outline permit issued in 1999. It was approved despite challenges to the legality of the project on the basis that it required amendments to the local plan and the PA’s duty to protect underwater remains that could possibly date back to the Roman period.

The new plans for the island envisage more open public spaces but an addition of 100 apartments to those already approved in 1999.  The PA confirmed that 8,000sq.m. of floor space from Manoel Island will be transferred to the Midi development at Tigné peninsula.

The planning directorate insisted that although the outline permit that expired 15 years ago, was kept alive through reference in the local plan approved in 2006.