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Environment Commissioner disagrees with Mepa choice of Naxxar circus site

The siting of the circus in Naxxar is incompatible with the residential nature of the area, the Environment Commissioner within the Office of the Ombudsman has told Mepa after a complaint by residents.

"Mepa should withdraw its 'no objection' to the use of the site for the setting up of the Circus," the Ombudsman said.

In reply, Mepa said it disagreed that the proposed activity is incompatible with the residential zoning of the area.

"First of all, one should accept the fact that the holding of such an activity is actually considered to be permitted development without the need for notification. Notwithstanding, it is standard practice for potential operators to seek Mepa's views of the matter prior to organising such an activity. This is very much encouraged by Mepa, as it avoids uncomfortable situations further down the line. Therefore Mepa cannot withdraw its 'no objection' as this right is almost an automatic one.

Mepa explained that it had directed the applicant to a more suitable location, taking into account the zoning and characteristics of the area. The preferred site, it said, consists of open grounds which previously attracted thousands of people (the trade fair grounds).

"Unlike the originally chosen site in the midst of a residential neighbourhood, residential buildings are not immediately contiguous. One must acknowledge that in future, this site could potentially attract one again fairs/conferences of considerable magnitude. The recommended site boats similar characteristics to the one chosen on an annual basis at the Floriana granaries which is an open area with residents at the distance," Mepa said.

It added that its decision was also guided by the Naxxar local council's prior endorsement.

The Ombudsman wrote back to Mepa pointing out that the site it had allocated was still within an area which is zoned for residential use, and therefore the policies applicable to the first site also applied to this one.

He said the site preferred by Mepa was no longer one with commercial potential but a site which was not designated by the local plan drawn up by  Mepa as one earmarked for residential development.

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