Billboard mayhem endangering Mdina views

The Superintendence urged the Planning Authority 'to safeguard the natural and cultural landscape' and refuse the application

A billboard that would block the views of Mdina along an arterial road in Ta’ Qattara on the boundaries of the ‘silent city’ is being opposed by the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage.

The superintendence is saying the proposed location, which is in an area of high landscape value – an area meant to safeguard Mdina’s protected views – will inevitably intrude on views of Malta’s old capital.

The Superintendence urged the Planning Authority “to safeguard the natural and cultural landscape” and refuse the application.

But a new legal notice introduced in February carries no list of roads or restrictions whatsoever on the number of billboards that can be placed along any of the roads.

Originally a draft legal notice issued in April 2017 identified only a part of Triq Buqana as the sole location in the Rabat area suitable for billboards.

The application for the billboard in Ta’ Qattara was presented in November 2017, a short distance away from the designated area, by Byon Zammit on behalf of MAD Ltd.

Under the new billboard rules, the PA will have to consider the presence of “features of environmental, architectural or historic interest in the vicinity”. Billboards where a strategic view would be interrupted are not considered “appropriate”, in the words of the new rules.

And yet both Transport Malta and the Environment and Resources Authority gave their go-ahead.

The same company is also proposing another controversial billboard in Dawret il-Mellieha, where the Superintendence is
also warning that it will intrude on a significant view. The ERA also deemed this partly garigue area inappropriate for a billboard.

Dawret il-Mellieha was already designated for the erection of billboards in the draft regulations issued in April last year.

The Superintendence has expressed concern on one of several applications presented by the Nationalist Party, proposed along Mdina Road “within the Area of High Landscape Value devised to protect views of the Chadwick Lakes and a part of Mdina”. The ERA has not objected noting that the billboard will have no environmental impacts. But Transport Malta objected to the billboard as it is within a 50m distance from a junction.