From the Times of Saturday, 23rd January 2010
Clay from Baħrija site dumped illegally - Ramblers
The Ramblers' Association yesterday alleged that clay excavated and removed from the Baħrija site belonging to former Nationalist Party president Victor Scerri was illegally dumped on public land.
Journalists were taken to a site in Landrijiet, limits of Baħrija, where a large swathe of garigue area was smoothed over with clay allegedly deposited there by trucks coming from Dr Scerri's site. Dr Scerri's architect, Robert Musumeci, said the allegations were news to him. "I am unaware of any illegality to this effect," he said when contacted.
Ramblers' Association president Lino Bugeja and secretary Alex Vella said they and two other unnamed witnesses had followed the trucks to the site and estimated that about 400 cubic metres of clay were deposited there.
The site is in an area identified by government for the construction of wind energy turbines.
Mr Bugeja said the excavation of clay and its removal from the Baħrija site went against the Malta Environment and Planning Authority's policies and called on the authority to stop the works.
"We want to save this site from further destruction because we fear that this construction would set a precedent for other development in the area," Mr Bugeja said, insisting a Natura 2000 site had to be accorded the highest level of protection.
He insisted that Mepa seemed to be unaware of the amount of excavation that took place on the site because in the original plans submitted by Dr Scerri's architect no reference was made to the site's varying levels.
Mr Musumeci was unfazed by this accusation. "So far, works have been carried out according to a valid permit," he said.
The latest allegations are a continuation of the long-drawn saga, which erupted on the eve of the European Parliament elections last year.
When asked, Mr Bugeja denied the association's actions amounted to a crusade against Dr Scerri. "We have nothing against Dr Scerri. All we are interested in is protecting the environment for us and future generations," he said.
Dr Scerri's construction, a farmhouse, is covered byMepa permits. The development is situated at the bottom of the valley, which is a designated Natura 2000 site.
In August last year, Mepa had revoked the last permit issued to Dr Scerri for an extension after it was discovered that an environmental screening process was ignored.
However, the other permits for the reconstruction of a farmhouse remained in place.