Kamp Emer­genza Am­b­jent makes good on ul­ti­ma­tum de­spite gov­ern­ment ac­tion and PA en­force­ment no­tice

Malta Independent - - NEWS - He­lena Grech Photo: James Bianchi

Kamp Emer­genza Am­b­jent has made good on its ul­ti­ma­tum and yes­ter­day re­stored ac­cess to the Ma­noel Is­land fore­shore by tear­ing down a side-fence that was block­ing ac­cess.

In the mean­time, the gov­ern­ment filed a ju­di­cial protest on Fri­day against MIDI plc calling on them to ad­here to the con­ces­sion agree­ment and pro­vide ac­cess to the fore­shore. The Plan­ning Author­ity (PA) also is­sued an en­force­ment no­tice on Fri­day which gave MIDI 16 days to re­move four gates that were in­stalled by the com­pany with­out the nec­es­sary per­mits.

A week ago, a group of ac­tivists said that should MIDI plc not pro­vide ac­cess to the fore­shore within seven days, they would en­ter “with or with­out per­mis­sion”.

KAE leader An­dre Cal­lus said: “The ac­tion taken by the gov­ern­ment and PA are very pos­i­tive, and we are ex­tremely sat­is­fied to see that the pres­sure we have ex­erted has re­sulted in con­crete ac­tion be­ing taken.

“But this is not enough be­cause court pro­ceed­ings can take years – there­fore, now more than ever, we must keep up the pres­sure. The court pro­ceed­ings have not even for­mally be­gun, and the gov­ern­ment has not filed a case. It filed a ju­di­cial protest against them (MIDI) – it is the first step and an im­por­tant one.

“The point is that we gave MIDI one week to pro­vide ac­cess or we would gain en­try. That week has passed and MIDI did not pro­vide ac­cess, so we are de­liv­er­ing on our prom­ise.

“Apart from gov­ern­ment pres­sure, it is nec­es­sary for the peo­ple to keep ap­ply­ing pres­sure be­cause ev­ery day that ac­cess is blocked; ev­ery­day MIDI does some­thing il­le­gal.”

Asked why KAE did not wait for the 16 days pro­vided by the PA through an en­force­ment no­tice to al­low pub­lic ac­cess to the fore­shore, Mr Cal­lus said MIDI has a right to ap­peal, and for each day that they do not ad­here to the no­tice they only get slapped with a €4 fine.

“We hope that MIDI will re­spect the no­tice; how­ever we need to turn up the pres­sure be­cause the pub­lic has a right to en­joy the fore­shore, and we can­not con­tinue to al­low pow­er­ful en­ti­ties to do as they please at the ex­pense of the pub­lic,” he said.

The gov­ern­ment filed a ju­di­cial protest in the First Hall of the Civil Court, through the Of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral, say­ing that MIDI is not ad­her­ing to the terms of its con­tract with the gov­ern­ment as it was deny­ing ac­cess to parts of the fore­shore that are not in pos­ses­sion of the com­pany.

The gov­ern­ment said that while it was all for be­ing probusi­ness, it would not tol­er­ate il­le­gal­i­ties and abuse.

Gzira Mayor Con­rad Borg Manche said dur­ing yes­ter­day’s protest that 16 years of no ac­cess to res­i­dents were enough. “They (MIDI) had all the time in the world to fix this. They do not re­ally care about the place. The Laz­zaretto still lies in ru­ins. They only re­stored the fort be­cause they can turn a profit from there.”

He added that the Gzira lo­cal coun­cil has re­quested ju­ris­dic­tion over Ma­noel Is­land be­cause it falls un­der no en­tity or lo­cal coun­cil.

Paul But­tigieg from Har­sien Hon­doq also ad­dressed the crowd say­ing that he was pleased to see strong sup­port for a cause that is in the pub­lic’s name. He said that thanks to such ini­tia­tives, the pub­lic in­ter­est may start to be pri­ori­tised. The group was set up in protest of the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment at Hon­doq ir-Rum­mien.

Mr Borg Manche said there could never be jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to close down a kilo­me­tre of pub­lic fore­shore. “We are Mal­tese, this is our coun­try and we have a right to en­joy it.”

They cel­e­brated be­hind the main gate after gain­ing ac­cess to the area from a side-fence opened by KAE this morn­ing.

In com­ments to The Malta In­de­pen­dent on Sun­day, Mr Borg Manche said: “My ad­vice was that no gate or fence should be forced opened. The first time the gate was opened I was part of it and it was nec­es­sary, be­cause we would not have been taken se­ri­ously.

“Now that the gov­ern­ment has taken steps, let’s wait and see how that pro­gresses. In fact, KEA said they will be tak­ing full re­spon­si­bil­ity for the re­moval of the fence this morn­ing (Satur­day).”

Present for the protest was Op­po­si­tion Whip David Agius, to­gether with PN Gzira lo­cal coun­cil­lors.

“I am here as a pri­vate cit­i­zen and as a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the PN to­gether with our lo­cal coun­cil­lors. Ob­vi­ously we sup­port the open­ing of the shore to the pub­lic. We were the first in Par­lia­ment to pro­mote the Pub­lic Do­main Bill and we main­tain that the shore here, and all around Malta, is ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic,” Mr Agius said.

Turn­ing to why KAE has taken up the long-stand­ing Ma­noel Is­land fore­shore is­sue con­sid­er­ing the num­ber of sit­u­a­tions where pub­lic land is oc­cu­pied by pri­vate cit­i­zens/en­ti­ties, Mr Cal­lus said: “When we (KAE) started, we did not want to just stick to this is­sue. We have also tack­led is­sues such as the high-rise build­ings and the En­vi­ron­ment and Re­source Author­ity (ERA).

“KAE is not an NGO; we are an al­liance of con­cerned in­di­vid­u­als. What we tackle de­pends on the al­liance and on the way cer­tain sit­u­a­tions progress – we can­not speak about all is­sues all the time. We must tackle in­jus­tices one at a time.”

Asked whether there are fu­ture plans to tackle sim­i­lar is­sues, such as the il­le­gal Ar­mier boathouses that have oc­cu­pied pub­lic land, Mr Cal­lus said that the group re­cently or­gan­ised a protest out­side the ERA for not ex­ert­ing enough strength on the high-rise build­ing is­sue – some­thing that will have a sig­nif­i­cant en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

Ma­noel Is­land should be­come an eco-is­land AD –

Al­ter­nat­tiva Demokratika chair­per­son Prof. Arnold Cas­sola said yes­ter­day: “It is good to see that the gov­ern­ment has taken legal ac­tion against MIDI. There should now be rapid en­force­ment against the bla­tant in­fringe­ments by MIDI. Al­ter­nat­tiva Demokratika re­it­er­ates that Ma­noel Is­land should be re­claimed by the gov­ern­ment and main­tained as an Eco Is­land Nat­u­ral Park, with only pedes­tri­ans and bi­cy­cles al­lowed in­side.

“After the legal ac­tion taken against the Ma­noel Is­land op­er­a­tors and the tuna fish farm own­ers, it is now im­per­a­tive that these mea­sures are en­forced a.s.a.p. and then ex­tended to other ar­eas which have been il­le­gally taken over, and some­times de­vel­oped, such as Mon­tekristo Es­tates, Ar­mier, and so on…”

PN calls for com­mon sense so­lu­tion

Ina state­ment, the Na­tion­al­ist Party said, “The so­lu­tion should be one of com­mon sense in the in­ter­est of all Mal­tese and Goz­i­tans, and not just in the in­ter­est of Gzira res­i­dents.

“This is­sue can only be re­solved if Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat, in his ca­pac­ity as Prime Min­is­ter, sits down at a ta­ble with the MIDI con­sor­tium, which is block­ing ac­cess, and pro­vides as­sur­ances that the in­ter­est of all Mal­tese and Goz­i­tans is be­ing pri­ori­tised.”

Res­i­dents right to ask what was done by PN Labour

In a state­ment of its own, the Labour Party ques­tioned why PN leader Si­mon Busut­til was at­tack­ing the Gzira Mayor, who as act­ing in the in­ter­est of the res­i­dents. Dr Busut­til, the Labour Party said, was also at­tack­ing the gov­ern­ment, which had been the first to take ac­tion and stand up for the res­i­dents.

“Res­i­dents were right to ask why the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment had done noth­ing about the is­sue,” the PL added.

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