A group of NGOs is requesting a full-scale investigation into the practices that have led to a PA employee being appointed head of the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT).
The call comes after the Times of Malta reported on Sunday that Martin Saliba, who used to head the EPRT, was still listed as an employee of the Planning Authority, “leading to a blatant and unprecedented conflict of interest.”
A spokesperson for the NGOs said that while Saliba decided upon many appeals including those of the ITS-DB project, Tumas Group’s Quad Towers of Imrieħel, and the Central Link Project, “not once did he disclose the fact that he was an employee of the Planning Authority. This means that he could have never met the requirements needed to qualify as an impartial or independent adjudicator in line with the demands of his role, since he was bound to his employer.”
As a consequence, the appellants who appeared before Saliba may have never been given a fair hearing, the NGOs said. “This also means that residents and NGOs who have been crowdfunding various appeals across the island may have been investing their human, financial and professional resources in a system that is rigged against them”, they said.
In view of this, the NGOs said that they are demanding a full-scale inquiry as to how this was allowed to happen, together with an audit of all the appeals Martin Saliba has decided upon, full disclosure of all his agreements with the Planning Authority and answers as to whether the current EPRT Chairman is also an employee of the PA.
“Saliba’s appointment as head of the EPRT is a gross miscarriage of justice in planning, which raises the spectre that the PA may have been judging appeals against itself and denying citizens recourse to an impartial hearing.”
The NGOs insisted that they will not allow this latest scandal to be swept under the carpet.
The statement was signed by the Attard Residents Environmental Network, Azzjoni: Tuna Artna Lura, Bicycle Advocacy Group, BirdLife Malta, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Extinction Rebellion Malta, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth (Malta), MaYA Foundation, Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta, Ramblers’ Association of Malta, and The Archaeological Society Malta.
Original article found on The Malta Independent