The Malta Independent on Sunday, 9th November 2008, by David Lindsay –

An agreement was reached this week to reopen the petitions against the proposed tourist development at Ramla Bay, which were dropped by the European Parliament’s Petitions Committee under dubious circumstances last month.

They were, however, closed again the next day following objections made by European Peoples Party representatives, who have requested written proof that an appeal against the project’s refusal is still pending, this newspaper is informed.

Following inconsistencies in information highlighted by The Malta Independent on Sunday, the Committee’s coordination group agreed to reopen the complaints this week in the lead-up to this month’s meeting.

The decision was taken on the basis of the issues raised in last Sunday’s article and after arguments raised by Spanish Green MEP David Hammerstein and Gozitan petitioner Victor Galea.

Last week this newspaper revealed how the European Commission had been informed in September 2007 – a month before the Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s DCC board met to decide on the application – that no permit for the proposed project would be granted.

On the basis of the information supplied by the Commission, and following a confirmation by MEP Simon Busuttil at last month’s committee hearing that the application had been rejected, the committee dropped three petitions against the proposed project.

The committee, however, had not been aware of the fact that the application is still open under an appeal to be heard later this month.

Dr Busuttil has taken exception to the information provided by this newspaper last Sunday (see letter on page 19), arguing it was not within his remit to determine whether an appeal was pending, and that he was correct in telling the committee the application had been rejected.

No reply, however, has been forthcoming on how the Commission had been informed that no permit would be granted for the development before the DCC board rejected it, albeit on a technicality raised by a third party.

But although the coordination committee on Wednesday had agreed the petitions would be reopened, EPP representatives at the next day’s meeting requested written proof that the Ulysses Lodge application has not yet been fully rejected and that the application is still open pending an appeal process, the first hearing of which is on the Appeal Board’s agenda for 28 November.

The state of affairs means that the reopening of the case with the Petition Committee has been postponed until at least December, when the Committee is due to meet again, and after the Mepa appeals board begins to hear the proposed developers’ appeal on 28 November.