Sunday, 28 February 2010

Nadur cemetery appeal proceeding at dead slow pace

Times of Malta
Saturday, 27th February 2010

Nadur cemetery appeal proceeding at dead slow pace

Environmental NGOs have complained of long delays in the appeal lodged over the development permit for the Nadur cemetery, while building works continue unabated.

Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Ramblers Association , Koperattiva Agrikola Ghawdxija Gozitano and Nature Trust (Malta) said they were appalled as to how the authorities have been treating the Nadur Cemetery case.

"The long delays in the decision of the Appeals board, while the development continues, simply show that the citizen is not a priority in such cases and the rights of farmers who are concerned about the impact of this development are falling of deaf ears. The way this case has been dealt with shows that the ECO Gozo initiative which the government has been trumpeting, is no more than a cosmetic exercise, while unsustainable development gets the go-ahead despite all protests. The livelihood of 12 farming families depends on the 100 tumoli of land that will be affected by large-scale excavation of the cemetery site. Furthermore some 5000 trees may end up dying, parched of water - highly ironic when the 34U campaign is trying to plant trees in Malta."

The case goes back to 5 June 2007 (World Environment day) when Mepa approved the construction of a cemetery of over 630 graves for Nadur notwithstanding the fact that statistics show that the deaths at Nadur rarely exceed 30 a year, the NGOs said. This permit was issued on a site that hydrological experts' reports have confirmed to be an important water source, indispensable for the agricultural production of the area.

An appeal lodged by one of the NGOs as on behalf of the farmers was followed by a long period during which 11 hearings and one site visit were held. In the meantime Hydrologist Ing Marco Cremona also testified and submitted a report on the hydrology of the area which was rebutted by the Appeals Board without a satisfactory explanation being given. Over these two and a half years the development has been ongoing at a steady pace, destroying this unique ecological/agricultural area and wreaking havoc with the farmers' freshwater supplies, the NGOs added.


ftheuma (7 hours, 4 minutes ago)
I would like to appeal to the Minister for Gozo, and to the Gozitan LP representatives to have the immoral and irrational construction of the Nadur cemetery stopped and the area restored to its previous pristine beauty. The splendid idea of Eco-Gozo will not become reality just because we have a nice website on the net but if concrete action is taken. Make no mistake this is a test case. It will show how deeply the government believes in Eco-Gozo. If the cemetery construction goes ahead it will prove conclusively that Eco-Gozo is nothing but a dead letter. It would be a tragedy if the idea of Eco Gozo dies even before birth, a victim to the small and obdurate ideas of those among us who are unable and unwilling to see beyond the grave.

Janika Azzopardi (1 day, 1 hour ago)
Our family has been trying to buy a plot for a long time. Why are the NGOs picking on the Nadur Cemetary. Most of my family who all live at Nadur or throughout Gozo and some in Malta and abroad all want this new cemetary. Why the vehement and instigation against the new cemetary. Why I ask. Please stop and think what a beautiful cemetary this is going to be once it's finished. I am sure all and one will come to appreciate this monument. I also hope that people get their facts straight about the number of people who died each year at Nadur. All they have to do is look at the issue of Luminarja which includes all the people who die throughout the year. Misinformation and misrepresentation is not right on the part of the NGOs because that is how they lose credibility. Let the new cemetary be built in peace. At this point, the new cemetary is well at an advanced stage and although there is an appeal, the permit has already been granted, thus the cemetary is being built based on an approved permit. Even the EU rejected the NGo's appeal.

Steve Borg (1 day, 1 hour ago)
@Marita Bigeni

In-numru ta' Nadurin li mietu fl-2008 kien ta' 31 ruħ. Dak l-ammont ma għandikx għaliex tiddubitah. L-ewwel darba li ssemma' kien meta semmejtu jiena meta kont mistieden waqt il-programm televiżiv Inkontri mmexxi minn Joe Grima fuq One TV.

L-għejjun tiegħu ma ġibhomx mingħand xi ħanut tat-te' imma mis-sors uffiċjali ewlieni ta' Malta - l-Uffiċju Nazzjonali tal-Istatistika!

Li wieħed irid iżid mar-rappurtaġġ li għamel it-Times huwa li s-630 qabar huma oqbra tal-familja. Mhux se jintużaw darba imma aktar minn darba. Il-każ semmejtu għall-ewwel darba waqt diskors li għamilt Birkirkara waqt il-kampanja tal-elezzjonijiet tal-Parlament Ewropew, ħafna qabel l-arċipriet il-ġdid li qiegħda ssemmi.

Dan huwa każ klassiku fejn il-MEPA għandha għaliex tistħi. U imbagħad joqogħdu jsemmu eko-gozo tiela u eko-gozo nieżla. L-uniku konsistenza li hemm hija fin-nuqqas ta' kredibilta' li d-deċiżjonijiet jittieħdu biex josservaw il-Pjan ta' Struttura tal-Gżejjer Maltin.

lesley kreupl (1 day, 2 hours ago)
It is a great pity that the church has allowed this devastation to take place, however, that MEPA gave them permission to do so in the first place is beyond belief. It is also beyond belief that the Ministry for Gozo chose to ignore the whole project, especially in view of the fact that both the present, and probably the future, Ministers for Gozo are Nadurin.
I suppose it is fitting that a water-polluting cemetery will be the final nail-in-the-coffin of the eco-Gozo concept – perhaps the church could organise a plaque to that effect?

Sort of

Unfortunately there is nothing that the hard working NGOs can do to restore/repair what has already been destroyed, but one hopes that they will continue to try and prevent similar disasters from happening in the future.

ftheuma (1 day, 2 hours ago)
The death rate for Malta is calculated at 8 per 1000 people per year (google any reliable statistics web site). Nadur has a population of more or less 4000 people hence 32 deaths per year. Statistics usually factor in a margin of error but let us say that the number of deaths is 40 per year, it is still far short of the 630 graves that can take, and i am being conservative here, at least 2000 burials. Ms Bigeni mentioned that last year 14 people died in February. Where does the figure come from and how many died during the rest of the year? What is the point? Is she implying that 14 people die every february, that there were 14 deaths during the other 11 months? And if people from outside Nadur will be buried in this mega cemetery why cannot the people of Nadur be buried elsewhere in the first place? For example at the Qala cemetery, it is quite capacious. As for Mr Azzopardi I think he should reveal the selfish interests and hidden motives he keeps claiming that those who oppose this cemetery have. Unless they do not exist of course.
Marco Cremona (1 day, 4 hours ago)

Alas, the development continued despite the appeal and now Gozo has lost another part of its unique beauty. One may ask - what use is the appeal process is the developer is allowed to proceed with the construction anyway? Even if the appeal is won by the farmers and the NGOs, who's going to get their water supply and the piece of virgin land back?

The process is rotton to the bone.

Marco Cremona (1 day, 4 hours ago)

A study by the developer's geologist (not hydrologist) mistakenly concluded that the cemetery would not affect the groundwater in the area. But this report does not even recognise the presence of springs that lie a mere 50m downstream of the development and on which water the farmers depend. Sure enough when excavation started the farmers' spring water turned milky-white with silt and the springs' flow was affected.

Some 2 years ago, I was commissioned by the farmers to draft a hydrological-report to be used in their appeal against the development. I produced a report that documented all of the above and showed that the developer's 'hydrological' report was flawed and that the cemetery would have a severe impact on the farmers' water supply- as was the case.

I gave witness during an appeal hearing in Gozo but it is now undersood that that my report is not being taken into consideration because 'it was not submitted on time'.

If it were not submitted on time, why was I called to give witness and be interrogated by the MEPA appeals board and the developer's lawyers more than a year ago? Was it being taken into consideration then or not?

Marco Cremona (1 day, 4 hours ago)
The case of the Nadur Cemetery is a perfect example of how things should NOT happen. I think it presents the perfect case study for MEPA reform and a number of PHDs on the subject of planning(sic).

Firstly, the Nadur cemetery is an extravagant 'development'. The size of the cemetery certainly exceeds Nadur's needs so the intention was not to meet the town's social needs but to capitalise financially on the sale of graves.

It could have been built elsewhere and not on the pristine land enjoying one of the most scenic views in the Maltese Islands. Incidentally, the land in question was classified by MEPA as an area of Scenic Beauty. But this was not enough to save the land from development.

An alternative site was discarded because the WSC said that the cemetery at that site would affect the groundwater, when the developer's consultants claim that there is no way a cemetery can affect the groundwater.

MEPA then decided that this extravagant development on pristine land in an area of scenic beauty did not require an Environmental-Impact-Assessment - but an extension of the Addolorata in an industrial area requires an EIA. A case of 2-weights and 2-measures.


Alfred Aguis (1 day, 4 hours ago)
This is what Pn can promise you. A cemetery. And they will make money out of it obviously.

lesley kreupl (1 day, 4 hours ago)
As a Mr. John Azzopardi pointed out to me in the Times comments recently, the Nadurin want the new cemetery. This may be so, but did they want it on top of the aquifer? Were they even aware that it was going to do untold damage to the underground water system? I know that the local farmers were aware of this fact and tried their utmost to prevent the excavations, unfortunately to no avail. The church officials simply ignored their pleas and petitions – a situation that I find very sad, considering that these farmers are obviously deeply religious people.
Judging by other recent comments of Mr. Azzopardi, he appears to be pro everything that will be detrimental to the Island of Gozo. I can only assume that he either does not live on the island, is elderly and needs a smart grave or simply does not care about the mess that future generations will inherit.
Unlike him, I don't have any ulterior motives, I simply love Gozo and want what is best for it. Certainly turning it into a mini-Manhatten and covering virgin land with concrete and decomposing bodies is not.

Marita Bigeni (1 day, 5 hours ago)
Deaths in Nadur rarely exceed 30 a year. I really doubt it. Plus the graves will not be used by Nadur residents only. Last year 14 people died in February alone in Nadur! I do not want to be drawn into the environmental issues that this article is about, but I don't entirely trust the statistics mentioned.

laurence schembri (1 day, 5 hours ago)
A nice clean (hygiene) Crematorium would have saved all these problems.

John Azzopardi (1 day, 6 hours ago)
Why is it that a few NGO are always making noise and they think they can win all the time. What about the rights of those individuals who want the cemetary. The cost of this cemetary is not coming out of their pockets is it. It's always the same individuals. Well, I am here saying along with a lot of people from the town of Nadur that we want the new cemetary. Why this pressure, because Nadur is installing a new archpriest. There is always something behind their motive and I bet anything, this is one of them. Yea right, the interest of the farmers they have in mind. IT's their interest though that they have in mind.

victor pulis (1 day, 6 hours ago)
What happens if the development is completed and the NGOs eventually win the appeal?!

Franco Farrugia (1 day, 6 hours ago)
@ Raymond Camilleri: Kien hemm xi haga ahjar? Ma nahsibx.

Raymond Camilleri (1 day, 8 hours ago)
people get what they vote for: GONZIPN. Gawdu!

Brian Ferrante (1 day, 8 hours ago)
Welcome to MEPA. If the NGOs think that any other application is treated differently, they are mistaken. MEPA is equally inefficient for everybody.

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