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MALTATODAY 16 October 2022

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 16 OCTOBER 2022 COMMENT What are we skinning? The in- spiringly baffling – and Planning Authority-condoned – construc- tion of a two-storey develop- ment that includes a reception centre and a swimming pool on ODZ land in Wied tal-Hzejjen, Bidnija… classed as a 'sheep farm'. Why are we skinning it? Because one would be hard-pressed to imagine where the sheep – fa- mously tetchy around reception centres and no great swimmers – would fit into this equation. But surely this was approved on the basis of at least a thin bedrock of rational logic. Thick or thin, it appears to be part and parcel of the very same bedrock that has accommodated many a Planning Authority board mem- ber over the years. I know that bedrock. It bounces like trampoline jelly and smells faintly of plastic roses. Yes, it's built from very strange materi- al that nonetheless attracts the weirdest of characters, as if they were fruitflies on the prowl. Ru- mour has it that it may even be hallucinogenic. You can hardly blame such addled individuals for seeing 'sheep farm' when the appli- cants clearly requested a 'ho- tel'. But that's the key word right there. Which word? 'Hardly', 'clearly'? No – 'requested'. Why single out that word in par- ticular? Because that is another facet of the Planning Authority experience. If you are a con- sortium of highly powered and highly monied developers, all you need to do is request a per- mit from the Planning Authority, and you shall get it. Even if the permit is for a sheep hotel? It could be anything. An escape room in the Hypogeum. A three storey car park under- neath St John's Co-Cathedral. A boutique hotel/shooting range on Filfla. The possibilities are endless. But what of those badly affect- ed by these developments? And just thinking out loud here but… has anyone ever consid- ered their environmental im- pact? You could turn to the de facto leader of the construction posse on this: Michael Stivala, the head of the Malta Developers Association. Why would I do that? For a so- ber, sage and deeply insightful consideration of the matter at hand, which should assuage any alienation you may feel about where the country is headed on this front. What did he say, then? In re- sponding to the expected criti- cisms about the impact of over- development (in this case, along the Gzira seafront in particular) during a televised debate, Stiva- la said that all of this grumbling is null and void… because peo- ple are flocking to socialise on the seafront either way. Do say: "The sham sheep farm is a slap in the face for any self-re- specting member of the Maltese electorate, and unless imme- diate steps are taken to reverse its approval, the integrity of the Planning Authority will continue to crumble into even finer dust." Don't say: "All this big song-and- dance about animal rights and the moment someone builds a structure that could house sheep in a dignified fashion, an outcry erupts! Shame on you, supposedly 'woke' hypocrites!" Daphne an example to all JEFFREY PULLICINO ORLANDO PAGE 13 The Skinny Malta, shrunk down MICHAEL FALZON The end of the PL-PN duopoly? PAGE 7 No 161 – The Sheep Hotel on ODZ JOSANNE CASSAR Our mental health problems require more than just helplines PAGE 6 EDITORIAL Justice has only begun to be served PAGE 2 SAVIOUR BALZAN 'Innocent until proven guilty' PAGE 5 Daphne should – and will – be remembered for her steadfast search for the truth behind the corrupt wheeling and dealing that went into certain initiatives

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