Firstly, the Ministry of Home Affairs wishes to clarify that while a request for comment was made to the Government from the Royal Gazette, it was sent at 10 pm Sunday, an unrealistic time to respond.
Regarding the claims reported in the media regarding the approval granted to build on land near Devonshire Marsh, the Minister of Home Affairs, Walter Roban, expressed his disappointment saying, “It is incredible that the Shadow Minister is so eager to call for my resignation and question my integrity by comparing this to the 2011 matter. It is apparent that the Shadow Minister and others care nothing about carrying out their due diligence to substantiate their allegations and read the file, which is publicly available.”
“For example, the Development Applications Board approved the plan, and the Department of Planning, who saw the current application as an opportunity to improve and organize the site and enhance the buffer area between the existing industrial use and the adjoining nature reserve, also supported its approval.”
“Also, despite the legislated timeframe to submit an appeal, to ensure all persons or entities had the opportunity to have their say on the application, I approved the requests made for more time to submit an appeal by the objectors. While this decision disappointed the applicant, it was the right thing to do. Had the extension not been granted, an appeal would not have been accepted.”
“Furthermore, unlike in 2011, this application involved both industrial and residential uses and all recommendations made by the Department of Planning and DENR during the application assessment were incorporated into the final design and relevant planning conditions.”
It is important to note that a 1991 Court case ruled in favour of Island Construction for using the site based on ‘Grandfather Rights’ due to the duration that Island Construction had owned and operated the site and the nature of the activities that were undertaken throughout this period. Inspection of the site clearly shows that this is an industrial site and cannot be construed as an ‘open space.
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