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ERA objects to energy substation for illegal Gnejna boathouses

The boathouses were built illegally by digging through the soft globigerina limestone or excavating the clay slopes on the sides of the headland

James Debono
30 September 2016, 8:05am
The provision of electricity services by Enemalta to “illegal development” – referring mainly to boathouses in Gnejna – in a Natura 2000 site is of significant environmental concern according to the Environment and Resources Authority.

“The impact of such illegal development on the Natura 2000 site is of significant concern from an environmental point of view and therefore ERA objects in principle to an application mainly intended to serve utility services to these properties,” a memo sent to the Planning Authority by ERA states.

Din l-Art Helwa has also objected to the provision of electricity to the illegal boathouses, arguing that the provision of lighting would create “unrestricted light and noise pollution” and “gives further comfort and permanency to illegal structures”. Nature Trust is also objecting because the proposed trench would cut across protected sand dunes.

The application presented by Enemalta  consists in the  development of a 200-metre trench connecting an electricity feeder located in an existing car park to “nearby properties” at Gnejna.   

The properties in question are boathouses carved in the rock face which are at the receiving end of various planning enforcement orders issued over the past decades, including one covering the whole area issued in 2007.

The enforcement orders issued against the Commissioner of Lands and various landowners in the area are still awaiting action by the Planning Authority.

A spokesperson for Enemalta Corporation confirmed that the planning application was submitted “to consolidate the existing electricity infrastructure in this area of Mgarr” and that the proposed development is required “for additional services the company is being requested to provide in the area.”

But when asked which properties would be benefitting from the development, Enemalta replied that it does not “divulge information about specific customers or applicants requesting its services” and that it “provides electricity services which fulfill the necessary requirements” found in application forms.

One of the requirements mentioned in the application forms is a compliance certificate issued by the Planning Authority.

The boathouses were built illegally by digging through the soft globigerina limestone or excavating the clay slopes on the sides of the headland.

Most of the boathouses are used by part-time fishermen to store fishing equipment.

James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
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