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NEWS | Sunday, 31 August 2008

Gozo’s most favoured road company eyes villas in Ramla l-Hamra


The owners of Road Construction Limited, which wins the vast majority of contracts for roadworks in Gozo and whose environmental record is tarnished by the environmental havoc around their Qala quarry, have pumped their money into the controversial Ulysses Lodge re-development overlooking picturesque Ramla l-Hamra.
Joseph Grima and Victor Hili, directors of Roads Constructions Limited, have now teamed up with Emidio Azzopardi as directors of Ulysses Lodge Company Limited.
The two new directors replace Mario Grech, who no longer appears as a director of Ulysses Lodge.
The company was stopped from developing 23 villas instead of the existing Ulysses Lodge after the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) revoked a controversial permit amidst a national outcry against the development a few months before the 8 March election.
The permit was subsequently rescinded on grounds of false information being provided, since the developer’s application failed to state that part of the footprint included a public road. The developers have appealed the revocation.
The company is now partially owned by Titan Developments Company – of which Joe Grima is a director, and Victor Hili an owner and director.
In February 2007, the Labour Opposition lashed out at Minister Giovanna Debono for favouring the company after it emerged that 42 out of 50 road contracts had been awarded to Road Constructions.
But Debono claimed the company was only awarded the work as they offered the lowest bids in competitive tenders.

Bad track record
Nonetheless, the new developers also have a negative environmental track record. Victor Hili has just applied to sanction the illegal felling of carob trees and to erect flats and garages in an ODZ area in Xaghra. Photos taken around a quarry belonging to the same company in Ta’ Klement reveal massive environmental destruction, after material was dumped onto the surrounding countryside and part of the terrain was levelled to serve as a pathway.
An enforcement order dating back to July 2006, against the dumping of waste and a breach in permit conditions, is still pending on MEPA’s desks. According to the latest note issued by MEPA in September 2007, “investigations” on this case are still pending.
The quarry itself is in a legal limbo because an application to renew its permit has been pending since 2005.
The Ta’ Klement quarry in Qala had to substitute the one at Qortin Isopu in Nadur which was restored by inert waste.
A temporary one-year permit for the operation of a hard stone quarry was issued in 1998. In 1999, MEPA refused to grant a permit to extend the quarry by another 18,100 square metres because of the area’s ecological and scenic value.
But this decision was overturned in the developers’ favour, after they appealed for reconsideration. The new permit was valid for five years and subject to review every two years. In 2004 MEPA, renewed the permit for another year. But an application to renew the permit in 2005 is still pending.
If approved the Hondoq ir-Rummien project, would create 800,000 cubic metres of excavated rock, which will be stockpiled for re-use in nearby quarries like the one belonging to Road Constructions Ltd in Ta’ Klement.

Ramla l-Hamra
www.maltatoday.com.mt/2007/10/07/n6.html

jdebono@mediatoday.com.mt

 


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