MaltaToday | 22 June 2008 | Ombudsman’s decision still preventing Sant Antnin finalisation

NEWS | Sunday, 22 June 2008

Ombudsman’s decision still preventing Sant Antnin finalisation

James Debono

MEPA Auditor Joe Falzon wants to finalise his report into the controversial approval of government’s Sant Antnin waste recycling plant, but he is still heeding Ombudsman Joseph Said Pullicino’s advice to refrain from doing so.
The preliminary draft report was already published without the auditor’s consent by his former investigating officer Carmel Cacopardo, during the electoral campaign.
The draft report found the process leading to the choice of the Sant Antnin plant to be “defective”, and reprimanded Environment Minister George Pullicino for holding meetings with MEPA officials involved in the selection process.
MEPA has also officially published its comments on the same report on its own website. All that is now lacking from the report are the conclusions of MEPA auditor Joe Falzon.
The committee of residents against the Sant Antnin recycling plant has now made a formal claim asking for the publication of the report.
“I was of the opinion that it was opportune and appropriate for all concerned that the report is concluded and published,” the MEPA auditor told the committee this week in a letter.
But according to Falzon, Ombudsman Said Pullicino has reiterated his earlier position that the report should not published.
Said Pullicino had already advised the auditor not to publish the report a year ago, not to prejudice a pending case being heard before MEPA’s appeals board. Basing his arguments on legal grounds, Said Pullicino insists the situation had not changed.
“He had advised me not to conclude the report because of the pending decision of the Planning Appeals Board on the matter. The PAB had not concluded its work and consequently the situation had not changed.”
Falzon also consulted former MEPA chairman Andrew Calleja on the matter, who told him he is completely against the publication of the report. “At the moment I would not like to create further controversy about the operations of my office,” Joe Falzon told the Marsaskala committee, while reiterating his belief that information on environmental matters should be readily available to all.
“I do not share the concern of MEPA on the publication of this report. However, since I had declared that I intended to abide by the advice of the Ombudsman, I shall not conclude the report at the present moment.”

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