Resubmitted plans for the controversial catamaran jetty in Balluta bay are actually set to take up more land than the previously rejected plans.
The resubmitted application was initially described as “a correction of previous plans to reflect smaller pontoon and shifting for environmental considerations”.
However, the resubmitted plans feature the take up of a total of 130 square metres of area, as opposed to the 81 square metres in the previous application.
The old permit plans and planning application illustrate the take up of 81 sqm, while it was being described as a landing place as part of a new venture consisting of a sea-based hop-on-hop-off maritime service.
The newly revised plans, which were meant to be more in line with the safeguarding of the surrounding environment of the area, illustrate that 130 sqm of land is set to be sacrificed.
It’s unclear how such an increase is meant to serve as a corrected plan, or how it reflects a smaller pontoon and more environmental considerations when more land is actually being taken up.
The new plans do slightly shift the pontoon’s location, in view of protecting Posidonia meadows in the area. However, questions remain of the long-term damage the vessels will do to the entire area.
In previous comments, the company has said that the increase is due to contingency plans. Still, the new plans have raised concerns among residents and activists.
The company behind the project is the Fortel Group, the giant behind the Fortina Hotel headed by the Zammit Tabona family. It is looking to build a new jetty for a new hop-on-hop-off maritime service, similar to a hop-on-hop-off bus concept they are investors in.
The group is also a shareholder in the massively successful Captain Morgan cruises, whose ticket booths and berthing points already take up sizeable portions of the Sliema ferries promenade.
The initial permit was approved. However, the company halted works in June after delays in bad weather and its permit forbidding them from carrying out work during the bathing season.
Activists and residents had also previously gathered to protest for an entire week against the initial plans of this development earlier in June, physically acting as a barrier for works to be halted.
The area is considered as part of the public domain. A step up from public property, an area classified as public domain imposes the state to protect the site for future generations, safeguarding against unsustainable development, commercialisation, and environmental destruction.
Usually, an area within the public domain can only be transferred through a specific resolution of Parliament with a simple majority.
As of today, more than 500 objections have been filed against the development, with the representation period ending tomorrow 11th November.
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