MIDI’s Manoel Island architect has conflict of interest, FAA tells appeals board

Planning appeals board accepts FAA plea that Manoel Island masterplan’s EIA architect has conflict as son of MIDI director

MIDI's plan for Manoel Island
MIDI's plan for Manoel Island

The planning appeals board (EPRT) has accepted a plea of conflict of interest raised by environmental NGO Flimkien għal-Ambjent Aħjar, over the environmental impact assessment for MIDI’s Manoel Island masterplan.

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.

Moreover,  Said’s architectural firm Architecture XV has been engaged by MIDI plc repeatedly as the responsible architect on various permits and projects forming part of the development of Manoel Island.

“As one of MIDI’s responsible architects he should be automatically precluded from participation in the EIA,” FAA said in a statement.

MIDI is not disputing the veracity of any of the allegations mentioned by the FAA in its appeal to the Environment Planning Review Tribunal.  

“FAA is appealing planning decision PA 8605/18 for the excavation of Manoel Island and the Masterplan itself PA 9407/17. Both these decisions were based on the EIA in question. In view of this conflict of interest FAA maintains that the assessment and permits should be nullified in terms of the Environment Impact Assessment Regulations,” FAA said.

The ERPT acknowledged the validity of FAA’s plea and is allowing it to be considered as part of the NGO’s complaints against these two permits.

“FAA will continue in its efforts to challenge the Manoel Island development which will have a huge negative impact on the residents of Gzira as well as on the traffic, air quality and landscape of Marsamxett Harbour, Sliema Creek, Ta’ Xbiex Creek and the area at large.

“Manoel Island is the only remaining open space and green lung in an area which is increasingly becoming suffocated by large developments, increased tourism, vehicle traffic and the pressures of a rapidly growing population.

“Rather than a luxury development for high net worth individuals and businesses, the public would be far better served if Manoel Island is turned into a much-needed green heritage park and open space to be enjoyed by all,” FAA said.

MIDI reaction

In a reaction, MIDI place accused FAA of deliberately misleading the public over the facts about the development.

“As a low rise, largely pedestrianized development the Manoel Island project will certainly not leave the biggest negative impact on the local community or the surrounding area. Rather, once completed the Gzira residents and the public at large will have access to over 80,000 square metres of green public park, equivalent to the area occupied by sixteen football pitches, by far the largest public open space in the area,” a spokesperson said.

“The Guardianship Deed entered with the Manoel Island Foundation and the Gzira local council ensures that Manoel Island Fort is mainly used for cultural and community uses which ensure that the general public will enjoy access to the fort.

“Over and above the public park, the revised masterplan includes 65,500sqm of car free open spaces, accessible to the general public at all times. The open spaces include a series of piazzas including a 9,000 sqm square at the entrance to Manoel Island.”

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