MaltaToday | 10 August 2008

NEWS | Sunday, 10 August 2008

MEPA leaves pets without their cemetery

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority has thwarted Simon Micallef’s lifelong dream to develop Malta’s first ever pet cemetery over agricultural land in Qormi.
“All animals lovers wish to show respect towards their dead animals by burying them... I can’t understand why there are pet cemeteries all over the world but not in Malta,” Micallef told MaltaToday.
But MEPA did not refuse this cemetery capriciously. According to the case officer’s report, the proposed development would have led “to the contamination of a ground water source”.
The Malta Resources Authority objected to the pet cemetery because the proposed it lies within the Groundwater Protection Zone, just 250 metres from the Tal-Hlas pumping station galleries.
The site identified for the pet cemetery is known as Tal-Hlas, limits of Qormi. The surrounding area is dominated by a typical rural landscape, characterised by extensive open agricultural land.
The development would have resulted in the loss of 1,000 square metres of agricultural land.
Micallef was particularly incensed by MEPA’s objection because the proposed cemetery lied outside development zones. “Where then should we bury our pets – right next to houses?” asked Micallef.
Micallef’s architect argued that the proposed development should not be considered as an urban development precluded in ODZ areas.
But MEPA’s own Forward Planning Unit has left some hopes for those animal lovers who would like to accord some human dignity to their dead pets.
It recommended that instead of locating a pet cemetery in a remote open field it should be cited on “derelict land not too far from the development zone, having good access and in a position to be well landscaped for visual mitigation purposes.”
But Micallef, who has already unsuccessfully applied to develop a pet cemetery on two other sites, has now lost all hope of seeing his dream come true.
Surely MEPA was far less severe when it had issued a permit for 600 human graves in Nadur in a remote ODZ location, despite claims by farmers that the cemetery would contaminate the natural springs which irrigate their orchards.

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