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MALTATODAY 21 March 2021

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4 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 21 MARCH 2021 NEWS POST OF LAWYER WITH THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL The Office of the Attorney General Agency is inviting applications for Lawyer to carry out prosecution and related duties. The selected candidates will be employed on a full-time indefinite term basis, subject to a probation period, and will be required to work for a minimum of forty hours per week. Applicants must be in possession of a warrant to practice the profession of Advocate and, must also have at least one year of experience in the practice of the profession covered by a warrant. Letters of application, including a detailed CV, should be addressed to: The Administration Jobplus Vacancy Nos 367210, Permit Nos. 89/2021 Office of the Attorney General, No. 53, Admiralty House, South Street, Valletta VLT 1101 or emailed to and should be submitted by not later than Friday 26th March 2021 at 13:00 hrs. POSTIJIET TA' AVUKAT FL-UFFIĊĊJU TAL-AVUKAT ĠENERALI JAMES DEBONO THE Environment and Resources Au- thority is strongly objecting to an attempt by Melvyn Theuma – the State witness against alleged mastermind Yorgen Fenech in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case – to change the use of an ag- ricultural store approved in 2016, into a residence. Before Theuma was granted a permit for an agricultural store in 2016, the ERA's predecessor – the Environment Protec- tion Directorate – had already expressed doubts on the genuineness of his applica- tion. It had noted that "the new building, which is proposed on two floors (store at basement and another at ground floor), includes a staircase, a WC, a restroom and multiple apertures […] it is not ak- in to a typical agricultural store/s which normally seeks to maximize internal stor- age space." It had also warned that the proposed stores were of an excessive size and would intrude into the rural context. Now, Theuma is proposing the change of use from agricultural rooms to a resi- dence, with ERA noting that "the request for an agricultural store was simply a stepping stone so as to obtain a permit for a dwelling" and that "this piecemeal method has now become the preferred modus operandi". The ERA used this case to denounce what is becoming a common practice with applicants like Theuma, starting with a "development" under the pretext of agriculture to then scale it up into a residence. "Once this initial request is granted, it sets the ball rolling for further extensions, change of use and other an- cillary facilities, each application being granted on the basis that the site is now committed." Moreover, according to the ERA, giv- ing the green light to the change of use of such a development would set a dan- gerous precedent and will only encourage others to follow, resulting in in the uptake of more ODZ land through extensions, parking provisions, services, waste man- agement and swimming pools. Theuma's planning saga In November 2019, Theuma was grant- ed a planning permit for a menagerie that included dwarf goats, pheasants, pea- cocks, chickens, rabbits, and even wea- sels, on his land in Triq il-Kuccard, Safi. Originally, he got a permit from the Planning Authority's planning commis- sion to build an agricultural store instead of the smaller rural structures on the site. He also planned to have a reservoir, gate and boundary walls, but these additions were objected to by both the Environ- ment and Resources Authority and the Agricultural Advisory Committee. As it happens, the PA commission was chaired by architect Elizabeth Ellul, who is also listed as one of the non-executive directors on the government's Hous- ing Maintenance and Embellishment Company (HPMU) where Theuma was granted a no-show job by order of Keith Schembri himself. Theuma was not registered as a farmer when in 2016 the ERA and AAC said his plans for a reservoir were not motivated by a "genuine agricultural need". And when he registered as a farmer in July 2016, the AAC still refused clearance in view "of the absence of proof of arable farming as defined in the Rural Policy and Design Guidance." For this reason even the case officer had recommended a refusal. But the permit was still issued by Ellul's planning commission, after Theuma sub- mitted "evidence of agricultural activity" – evidence consisting of photos "showing the tools owned by the applicant used for the current agricultural activity". The case officer had however pointed out that this did not amount to "proof of arable farming as defined in the Rural Policy and Design Guidance". In June 2018 he applied for the con- struction of horse stables and paddock area. The initial proposal also included a visitors' attraction centre, which Theuma later withdrew. In 2019 he applied to develop of six an- imal enclosures with an area of approx- imately 56sq.m, which was approved in September. The enclosures would host four dwarf goats, six pheasants, one male peacock and three female peacocks, eight fancy chickens, 12 show rabbits and four Maltese weasels. The application was deemed to be in line with the rural policy which identifies the keeping of animals intended for research, educational, sport, leisure and exhibition purposes, as one of the acceptable rural activities outside development zones, provided that the animal enclosures are lightweight, visually permeable and of a high-quality rural design. The purchase of the 1,790sq.m land- holding was financed through a €70,000 bank loan issued by the Bank of Valletta. ERA strongly objects to Melvyn Theuma bid for ODZ residence Melvin Theuma

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