NGOs crowdfund legal action against Portelli’s Marsalforn ODZ pool

NGOs launch crowdfunding campaign for legal action against Portelli’s ODZ pool development in Marsalforn

The proposed pool area that will overhang the Marsalforn valley ridge
The proposed pool area that will overhang the Marsalforn valley ridge

Five organisations have launched a crowdfunding campaign for legal actions against the Planning Authority’s decision to approve what they said was “an obscene Joseph Portelli development”: a swimming pool in the Marsalforn valley of Gozo outside the development zones.

“The approval of a swimming pool in a valley, in addition to destroying the sensitive nature of the site, sets a dangerous precedent for subsequent approvals of similar projects. The Planning Authority has opened the flood gates to the destruction of our valleys to appease Portelli,” the NGOs said.

Għawdix, Wirt Għawdex, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar and Moviment Graffitti are planning legal actions against this decision of the Planning Authority. They have appealed for donations to help fund the legal action.

Portelli’s eight-storey development already breaches the Gozo-Comino Local Plan, and the DC15 policy which precluded major developments on Gozo’s protected ridges.

“At eight storeys, this development is the most abusive ridge-edge project so far, as not only does it change the landscape, dominating it from miles around, the hillside was gouged out to accommodate the project,” the NGOs said.

The NGOs say swimming pools along the side of valley here would destroy the lush vegetation and trees of this untouched site, and this precedent could lead to much wider destruction of valleys all over Gozo.

The Planning Authority’s planning directorate held firm in recommending refusal of this application by Joseph Portelli and his Ta’ Dirjanu partners – Agius – and partner Daniel Refalo. “However, at the previous hearings, it became clear that the Planning Commission has the intention of approving it against the PA’s technical advice. We maintain that the legally-ratified Local Plan is to be respected and no amount of tweaking of plans in favour of speculators should be allowed to override the law and public interest,” the NGOs said.