Only two district MPs with clear stand against Marsaskala yacht marina

Jean Claude Micallef and Mario Galea are the only district MPs with a clear position against the marina

Activists and residents of Marsaskala gathered on the promenade last Friday in protest of the proposed marina (Photo: James Bianchi)
Activists and residents of Marsaskala gathered on the promenade last Friday in protest of the proposed marina (Photo: James Bianchi)

Jean Claude Micallef and Mario Galea are the only two MPs from the Third District with a clear position against the proposed yacht marina in Marsaskala. 

Micallef, a Labour MP, and Galea, a Nationalist MP, have publicly denounced the plans by Transport Malta for a massive yacht marina project in Marsaskala creek. 

They reiterated their opposition to the marina plans in replies to questions that MaltaToday put to the five MPs elected from the Marsaskala district in the last general election. 

This newspaper asked the MPs whether they personally agreed with the yacht marina proposal and whether TM should stop the process as requested by the local council, residents and local clubs. 

In a vote taken a fortnight ago, the council called on TM to immediately withdraw its plans and abandon the idea of building a yacht marina in the seaside village. 

Micallef supported the stand adopted by the Marsaskala council against the project.  

“A clear motion put forward by councillor Ryan Portelli reflects my views on the matter and as long as I remain in politics I will continue to fight for what I believe in for the benefit of the people who elected me,” Micallef said. 

Galea was equally strong in his opposition to the marina plans, insisting the proposal should not even be studied. 

“The bay remains one of the few accessible bays in the south. If we destroy it we will be suffocating one of the few open spaces in the south where it is possible to enjoy the sea, the sun and have a leisurely walk,” Galea said. 

Swimming areas should be protected – Fearne 

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne said the swimming areas in the bay should be protected but stopped short of disagreeing with a marina. 

“It is clear that the part of Marsaskala bay that is still good for swimming should be protected. I am informed that this is what will happen. Any other decision involving the bay should only be taken after wide consultation with residents and stakeholders,” Fearne replied. 

Minister Carmelo Abela referred the newspaper to an opinion piece he wrote in l-Orizzont last week in which he did not express his personal views but pledged to voice the concerns of Marsaskala residents in Cabinet. 

“From what I have seen and heard it is evident that many people want the bay to remain as is, to be enjoyed primarily by residents, the locality groups and thousands of people who visit this beautiful locality. So, in the name of Marsaskala residents, this will be the message that I will take with me in the relevant forums,” Abela wrote. 

He defended his choice not to go public with his views, insisting he was not one “to shoot from the hip”. 

Medical doctor Silvio Grixti, a Labour backbencher, was coy about the matter. He referred to a statement released by Transport Malta in which it said the pre-qualification questionnaire was at this stage an exercise calling for ideas that would require studies and consultation. 

“I believe that whoever makes proposals should immediately take into consideration the concerns of the community in any process that takes place after bidders give their ideas,” Grixti said. He added that apart from taking into consideration the country’s economic development, the needs of the community should also be taken into account. 

However, Grixti did not say where he personally stands on the project and seems to agree that the exercise initiated by TM should not be abandoned forthwith. 

Plans show pontoons all around the creek 

Yacht marina plans included in the document published by TM show how the whole creek would be taken up by pontoons, effectively blocking off all the foreshore where people swim and fish. 

Residents and local clubs have denounced the plans, which threaten to change the creek’s idyllic views for ever. 

Transport Minister Ian Borg has defended the TM exercise, insisting that the marina was necessary to respond to a growing population of boaters that require berthing places. 

The Marsaskala council has called for existing boat moorings inside the creek to be reorganised but is opposed to a marina. 

Concerns have also been raised over the environmental impact of a marina on the ecologically sensitive Il-Magħluq, a saline marshland home to the native Killifish. 

On Friday, residents, local clubs and activists from Graffitti protested on the promenade against the marina plans.