Environmental NGO appeals PA decision on Manoel Island mega development

The project’s 650 new apartments will generate more people and traffic, exacerbating the situation in an already highly congested area, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar warned

FAA is appealing the Planning Authority's decision on the Manoel Island mega project
FAA is appealing the Planning Authority's decision on the Manoel Island mega project

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA) is appealing the Planning Authority’s decision approving MIDI’s proposed development of Manoel Island.

The master plan approved on 7 March 2019 includes the development of 650 luxury apartments, a five-star hotel, an imposing new vehicle bridge and roundabout, an expanded marina for super yachts and extensive land reclamation works.

In a statement on Wednesday, the FAA said that the new apartments would generate more people and traffic in a highly congested area.

The hugely increased building heights would ruin iconic views across Marsamxett Harbour to Valletta, and the project would lead to the loss of a large section of the Gzira promenade, the only public open space and year-round recreational meeting place remaining in the area which will be taken up by a massive new bridge and roundabout on Triq Ix-Xatt,  FAA said.

It would also require the removal of the only slipway and ancillary facilities in the Harbour, which slipway is used by many fishing enthusiasts, hobbyists and small boat owners, the NGO pointed out.

Moreover, the narrowing of the sea channel through land reclamation between Gzira and Manoel Island would increase the risk of flooding of Triq ix-Xatt and bring the noise and pollution of the yacht-yard industrial activity closer to a residential area, it pointed out.

“All this will negatively impact the well-being of residents and further erode Malta’s tourism appeal,” FAA highlighted, “EU studies show that Malta’s air pollution causes more extra deaths a year than tobacco smoking, due to the combined effect of vehicle and construction air pollution and population density on residents’ health. Trees are our only way to reduce air pollution and time spent in green areas is essential to physical and mental health.”

“Malta is desperately lacking green spaces for leisure and recreation in urban areas - more building and traffic affects us all on our tiny, overpopulated and polluted island.”

The appeal by FAA follows a campaign by the citizens’ group Inħobbu l-Gżira, which has worked relentlessly against the project, launching a petition - which has received 8,000 signatures offline and online - calling on Malta’s Parliament to turn Manoel Island into a National Heritage Park.  

The FAA said that €7,000 are required to cover the cost of the appeal to the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT) and pay for legal and architectural fees incurred to take the case to the tribunal. In light of this, the NGO is calling on the general public to help fund the appeal by donating to the PayPal account [email protected] or sending a cheque to Manoel Island Appeal, FAA, 23 St Anne Street, Floriana.

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