ERA shoots down Portelli’s attempt to regularise Nadur walls

The Environment and Resources Authority has shot down an attempt by Chloe Portelli, daughter of construction magnate Joseph Portelli, to regularize a series of illegally-constructed rubble walls in the vicinity of the Kennuna tower in Nadur

If approved the development will end up “breaking a presently undisturbed skyline” and create a precedent for similar changes in the surrounding lands
If approved the development will end up “breaking a presently undisturbed skyline” and create a precedent for similar changes in the surrounding lands

The Environment and Resources Authority has shot down an attempt by Chloe Portelli, daughter of construction magnate Joseph Portelli, to regularize a series of illegally-constructed rubble walls in the vicinity of the Kennuna tower in Nadur.

Portelli recently applied to construct a 37sq.m “agricultural store” in the area, prompting concern that the illegal works, denounced by residents for weeks before the PA finally intervened to stop the works after their completion, were aimed at laying the ground for even more development.

Chloe Portelli – a registered farmer – is actually the hospitality manager for the Portelli Group’s hotel chain and is directly responsible for the operations and project management of these properties.

The site of the rubble walls is a continuous stretch of open terraced land known as ‘il-Gebel l-Ahmar’ on the southern countryside of Nadur, facing the village of Ghajnsielem, and is highly visible from various surrounding areas. The Gozo and Comino Local plan shows the area designated as an Area of High Landscape Sensitivity.

The site is currently subject to an active enforcement notice against the construction of rubble walls without permit. “In the light of environmentally-inconsiderate works already observed so far, there are significant concerns relating to defacement of the affected rural landscape,” the ERA warned.

Both the construction of the illegal walls and the proposed development of an  agricultural store raised “significant environmental concerns”, the ERA said, as these would result in “visual intrusion” and a “significant cumulative impact” on the surrounding rural environment.

The ERA said that if approved the development will end up “breaking a presently undisturbed skyline” and create a precedent for similar changes in the surrounding lands. It insisted that any interventions should have be limited to “surgical repairs to limited stretches of rubble wall that are in bad shape”.

The rubble walls and proposed store are located on a 22,603sq.m plot of agricultural land. The PA’s advisory committee on agricultural issues has already objected to the agricultural store, noting that although Portelli is registered as a farmer, one-third of the holdings are registered as non-arable and therefore the applicant is not in possession of sufficient landholding to justify such a large store. Neither has the applicant submitted proof of arable farming.

Plots under 22,000sq.m are only entitled to 20sq.m stores while those over that threshold are entitled to a 40sq.m store. Moreover, no justification has been provided for the size of the proposed room. The committee has recommended relocating the proposal closer to the road so as to minimize soil uptake.

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