Fortina’s Captain Morgan wants entire Balluta area, NGOs raise alarm

Environmental activists warn that Captain Morgan company is seeking to expand its takeover of Balluta Bay with new planning application 

The St Julians local council has joined environmental activists in opposing the plans to have a tourist hop-on hop-off ferry service operate inside Balluta Bay
The St Julians local council has joined environmental activists in opposing the plans to have a tourist hop-on hop-off ferry service operate inside Balluta Bay

Statement by the Captain Morgan ferry company added at 2:46pm 

The Captain Morgan ferry company, owned by the Fortina group, has requested a planning permit to occupy nearly the entire seashore on the left of Balluta bay for its catamaran service, denying the public access to the sea in that area, a joint statement by environmental NGOs and the St Julian’s Local Council has warned.

The coalition said that Fortina had disguised its true intentions by citing minor amendments to get the application approved.

“Fortina is seeking permission from the planning authority to cordon off nearly the whole sea-level platform in Balluta Bay by setting up a continuous railing.”

The coalition said that Fortina would have exclusive use of the platform for its catamaran operations. In this way, the public would be denied accessibility to one of the last strips along the bay, and consequently to the sea adjacent to it. “The organisations remind the authorities that the foreshore is historically public domain and that, therefore, it cannot be taken over by private speculative projects,” the coalition said.

The NGOs said Fortina wants to take up more public land and sea by “stealth” in yet another case of a piecemeal approach to development. It said the minor amendments procedure that Fortina is trying to use for its development allows the applicant to avoid the normal planning process and hence deprive the public of its right to object.

“The PA’s approval of Fortina’s catamaran in Balluta Bay was a shameful decision that is currently being appealed by several organisations and the St. Julian’s Local Council. The Zammit Tabonas are taking advantage of these difficult times, with many people locked inside their homes and struggling to cope with the pandemic, to continue expanding their occupied land and sea for occupation their own private profits. The greed of the few rages unabated.”

Captain Morgan 'denies false claims'

The Captain Morgan ferry company has denied claims made by environmentalist NGOs that it was attempting to take over a large part of Balluta Bay shore "by stealth."

In a statement, the company said that at no point in the plans was Captain Morgan preventing the public from using the foreshore, or any parts of it, as Transport Malta clearly safeguarded this as one of the permit conditions. 

"The Minor Amendment update submitted by JBA, the architects for this project, faithfully reflects the original plans and contrary to what was claimed, it will actually lessen the impact on the nearshore seabed without hindering public access to the existing quayside."

The company said anyone who looked at the plans could see that the minor amendment shows the actual pontoon's structural dimensioning to be installed and the fixity's details on the quay due to the Nature Permit renewal.

The company added that the physical characteristics of the existing quay would remain unchanged.

"A Minor Amendment cannot change the principle of the development, but may only change specific details, most of which would normally be necessitated at development stage due to technical/structural issues."

The company also refuted claims that the railing was being used to exclude the general public. "The approved plans show that a railing was to be installed and made it amply clear that the railing will be compliant with the permit since its sole purpose is for accessibility for all, which is a requirement".

READ MORE: Residents up in arms over proposed Balluta Bay ferry landing