Armier sub-station application refused
The Malta Environment and Planning Authority unanimously refused Enemalta’s application for a sub-station in Armier, saying there was no justification for the structure in an outside development zone.
The Environment Planning Commission refused the application which was recommended for refusal, saying that other sites, including buildings or areas within scheme could have been chosen for the sub-station.
During the meeting, for which around 50 boathouse residents were present, the board heard Enemalta’s architect explain that the sub-station was needed because the area suffered from low voltage.
The architect said that the closest sub-station was around 1,500 metres away, more than five times the recommended distance. He pointed out that there were residences, farms and tourist complexes in the area and that the area suffered from a low voltage in summer.
The case officer’s report was more concerned about the boat houses. But the application for the sub-station did not mean that the number of boathouses would increase. Many had electricity metres which had been granted legally.
There were aerials belonging to Go and Melita and the wind mast belonging to the Resources Ministry.
Sandra Magro, who headed the board, asked the architect several times to identify the businesses and developments within a 300-metre radius which required a sub-station.
Without actually identifying these structures on the map, the architect said that the corporation had a duty to provide safe and adequate electricity to all.
Tarcisio Barbara, representing Armier Developments, said that the boathouse owners had been promised by several governments that they would not lose their property. Hundreds, he said, had legal electricity metres.
However, the low voltage in summer was causing a number of electrical problems which damaged the owners’ appliances and someone had to take responsibility.
He pointed out that the environmental groups were making the application out to be one for boathouses and not for a substation. He added that he did not expect them to come out so strongly against this sub-station.
He referred to the Prime Minister’s letter reassuring the boat owners that measures would be taken to safeguard their property and pointed out that the boathouses were included in the Marfa action plan.
Mrs Magro, who is also the Mepa board’s deputy chairman, pointed out that the Marfa Action Plan had still not been approved, the area was still outside scheme and, therefore, the commission had to take a decision on the present planning policies in the area.
Mellieha mayor Robert Cutajar, speaking on behalf of the council said it was against any illegalities of any type but pointed out that there were farmers and business communities that needed electricity who should not suffer because of illegalities.
Alex Vella, president of the Ramblers Association, one of the NGOs protesting against the application, pointed out that the low electricity supply in summer was caused by boathouse owners who owned an electricity metre from which they also fed their neighbours.
He said that when he had built a hotel years ago, he had been requested to provide the space within the property for the sub-station. He argued that the same should be done for any businesses or tourist complexes that needed the sub-station.