60-metre communications tower set to rise from historic fort St Leonard

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority has approved a 60-metre high communications tower proposed by telecommunications company GO on the glacis of the St Leonard Fort in Zabbar.

The area is designated as one having high landscape value, and lies outside development zones. 

The fort, which has been proposed for scheduling but is still unprotected, was built by the British between 1872 and 1878.

The case officer describes the proposed building as “quite massive and prominent.” However the development was deemed necessary for the operational activities of the company.

When consulted by MEPA, the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage noted that the new structure will be effectively “trespassing on what used to be the glacis around the fort.”

But the SCH said that it had no objection to the project as long as the tower does not have any visual impact on the fort.

But despite recognising the “obvious adverse impact of such a development is the visual impact of the communications tower on Fort St Leonard,” the case officer still called for the approval of the application.

Contacted by MaltaToday Superintendence official Nathaniel Cutajar confirmed that in a letter sent to MEPA on May 2011 it did not object to the development in principle “on condition that the communication tower will not create any visual impact on the fort.”

The case officer noted that MEPA lacks a policy regulating the erection of new masts.

According to MEPA’s Heritage Planning Unit, it is no longer acceptable that each operator erects antennas in visually sensitive areas.

It also referred to the need for a clear strategy and measures to encourage mast sharing “to reduce the visual clutter created by these prominent structures on the islands.”

A similar  application was originally approved on the same site in 2005, but GO had to apply again as the permit expired in 2010 before works had even started.

And yet MEPA objects and orders common people to pulls down their washroom if it is a couple of inches more that planned.