Environment Authority’s backyard garden works breach its own plans

The Environment and Resources Authority has failed to adhere to its own plans for the long-delayed rehabilitation of the “model” Spencer Gardens in Marsa.

A visit to the gardens by The Shift revealed that the ‘rehabilitation’ administered by ERA, the Authority responsible for environmental safeguarding and enforcement, used concrete for pathways meant to be formed solely using compacted earth.

Despite Spencer Gardens surrounding Hexagon House in Marsa, ERA’s current headquarters, the Authority has turned a blind eye to contractors deviating from approved plans it submitted to the Planning Authority last year.

Plans showing the southern side of the gardens to have beaten earth (compacted soil) pathways. The pathway marked in red has been set with concrete.

The PA-approved plans (DN/627/23) show that while half the garden’s pathways were planned to use concrete, the other half was meant to use compacted soil known as ‘beaten earth’.

The technique is considered vastly more environmentally friendly due to its rainwater permeability and use of natural materials instead of artificial ones.

Nevertheless, The Shift’s visit to the garden on 23 February showed that initial works on the pathways meant to use beaten earth were instead completed using concrete.

ERA target initiatives published in July 2021, just a few months before Spencer Gardens’ rehabilitation was announced, call for “removal and replacement of existing impermeable hard paving with healthy soiled ground areas.”

The targets were published as part of the ‘BELLUS’ project, which saw funding allocated to environmental projects considered exemplary by ERA.

Concrete was also used for pathways meant to be made from natural, compacted soil.

The rehabilitation of Spencer Gardens was taken on as a flagship project for the Authority, being prominently featured in government statements and displayed on ERA’s website.

The gardens’ rehabilitation was first announced in September 2021 by former Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia and former ERA CEO Michelle Piccinino. According to a government statement, the rehabilitation was meant to turn it into a “sustainable and model public garden.”

Its reconstruction was meant to be complete by the end of 2022 at a cost of €2 million and was to serve as a “natural and environmental oasis,” according to Piccinino.

By May 2023, the Authority, under its current CEO, Kevin Mercieca, set itself a new deadline for the project’s completion – early 2024. The Shift’s site visit this week shows that works are far from nearing completion.

The Shift has sent questions to the Authority asking for justifications for the abundant use of concrete in the project, its total costs and expected completion date.


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1 month ago

U le le! Tara dawk r ritratti jinqatalek n nifs!

1 month ago

Hence why friends of friends get the contract?

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