‘Experimental’ decking on Xghajra’s rocky shore is dropped amid stern warning

Malta Tourism Authority withdraws ‘experimental’ decking on Xghajra’s rocky shore

Xghajra, having been spared a decking area that would have covered the natural coastline, for no reason at all...
Xghajra, having been spared a decking area that would have covered the natural coastline, for no reason at all...

An application by the Malta Tourism Authority for the “experimental installation of demountable decking” on 260sq.m of rocky shore at Dawret ix-Xatt in Xghajra has been withdrawn following numerous objections presented by residents.

“Xghajra is beautiful because of its raw natural beauty and that is exactly why tourists and locals love the locality…. There is no need to put structures in every nook of the Maltese islands,” one resident objecting to the project had said in one of the 50 objections presented.

But a similar application in Ta’ Xbiex is heading for approval after the Environment and Resources Authority gave its green light, noting that the proposed structures will be demounted once the summer season is over. The decking will cover a small 136sq.m area of shoreline along Triq ix-Xatt.

But ERA’s approval for the Ta’ Xbiex proposal includes a cautionary note against similar proposals in more ecologically sensitive areas, adding that similar structures are unacceptable and that “the covering of natural coasts with artificial decking should not be encouraged.”

The proposed areas at Ta’ Xbiex
The proposed areas at Ta’ Xbiex

ERA has recommended that such interventions are directed toward the replacement of existing concreted areas on the coast, particularly those that are badly weathered or which currently deface the natural coast, rather than covering the natural coast.

The cautionary note comes in the wake of the DB Group’s proposal for the purchase of temporary decking to make a popular rocky beach beyond the Pembroke Athletic football pitch “more accessible”, as part of a planning gain for its massive high-rise project on St George’s Bay.

The 1,000sq.m of natural coastline originally proposed for the Pembroke project is part of a Natura 2000 site. ERA has so far not commented on the proposal but MaltaToday is informed that the authority would strongly object to any such proposal once this is submitted through the planning process.

The decking proposal is part of a set of proposals made by DB Group on how to spend the obligatory €1.5 million planning gain imposed by the PA if the project is approved. This also includes a private parking facility for residents with a capacity for 99 vehicles, to be administered by the council, as well as a family park with CCTV cameras. The imposition of the planning gain is not conditional on acceptance of these proposals, and the funds can still be directly allocated to the council in the absence of any involvement of the DB Group.

The developers have used these proposals to curry favour with the council, promising to help in the implementation and maintenance of these projects, but the council led by mayor Dean Hili has reiterated its firm opposition to the project and is committed to vote against it in a forthcoming PA board meeting.

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