Updated | MEPA denies PN board member claims that Dalli file has disappeared

Nationalist MP says former PN official Victor Scerri had permit for his €860,000 Bahrija getaway properly sanctioned by MEPA

Nationalist MP Ryan Callus outside the MEPA offices (Photo: Ray Attard)
Nationalist MP Ryan Callus outside the MEPA offices (Photo: Ray Attard)
The PN is seeking remedy over MEPA's
The PN is seeking remedy over MEPA's "covering-up" of Helena Dalli
Callus says MEPA hiding information on Dalli villa • Video Ray Attard

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) categorically denied claims made earlier today by Nationalist MP Mr Ryan Callus that the planning application file (PA03103/12 ) pertaining to Patrick Dalli, to sanction illegalities on a Żejtun farmhouse, had disappeared from the Authority’s website.

“The Authority can confirm that at no point did the application disappear online. The Authority reassures the public that besides the digital planning application file which is available for the public to scrutinise, the Authority simultaneously also keeps a hard copy of all the plans, documentation and minutes that pertain to the same file. The Authority’s digital system has an automatic daily backup to ensure that no data is ever lost.”

MEPA said that Callus, a MEPA Board member, had all the facility to check and address his queries in the appropriate forum

Earlier today, Nationalist MP Ryan Callu called on civil liberties minister Helena Dalli to resign and “shoulder political responsibility” for the illegal works carried out on a property owned by her spouse’s firm.

But Callus said he was sure Dalli would not resign. “Much like the prime minister, Helena Dalli’s superior, did not resign when he said the new gas plant would not be ready within two years, I don’t expect the minister to resign.”

Despite a number of enforcement notices on the pre-1967 farmhouse in Ramla Road, Zejtun, works on the site have been ongoing, and as no contract has yet been signed, the owners of the farmhouse remain Helena Dalli and her husband, Patrick.

The MP also said that Dalli should follow the example of former PN official Victor Scerri, whose permit for the development of a solitary house in Bahrija was controversial due to repeated negative recommendations being overturned by the former development control commission.

Since resigning the PN and finalising his Bahrija property, Scerri is seeking a buyer for his €860,000 house.

“Much like Labour Opposition demanded the resignation of PN General Council Victor Scerri when he was not even an elected member, responsibility should be carried; in Scerri’s case, he passed through the planning process and had received MEPA permits for his development in Bahrija.”

Callus also said that the planning file pertaining to the Zejtun villa owned by Pada Builders, was not even available on the MEPA website, accusing the authority of defending Dalli.

“When I clicked on Dalli’s property in the MEPA website, there was no information available, so technically MEPA is breaking the law because it is not following the Aarhus Convention that gives people the right to access environmental information,” Callus said.

“Consequently, the PN is asking the Ombudsman to investigate why this file has disappeared. MEPA’s primary obligation is not to defend government ministers but its duty is to safeguard the public,” the MP said.

“I would understand if Joseph Muscat hid information to protects Helena Dalli or Manuel Mallia, but MEPA covering-up information to protect Helena Dalli is a scandal,” he said.

Addressing the media outside the MEPA offices in Floriana, Callus argued that MEPA and the government are contradicting themselves.

“Whereas Helena Dalli and her husband confirmed that works are being carried out on the villa, MEPA is saying that no works were carried out since it served an enforcement notice. This is another cover-up, just like the one involving Manuel Mallia,” the shadow minister said.

Moreover, he said that according to the soon to-be new owner, Jason Desira, the promise of sale agreement was not published because of “Patrick Dalli’s insistence.”