Midi files counter-protest
Midi yesterday, through its lawyer Professor Ian Refalo, filed a counter-protest to the judicial protest sent by the Commissioner of Lands on 22 September, and dismissed as unfounded the allegation that it had in any way breached any of the conditions in the deed of emphyteusis granted to it by the said Commissioner in respect of Manoel Island.
Specifically, clause 15 of the deed can in no way be interpreted as giving a right of passage either to the claimant or, more so, the public. On the contrary, while clause 1.2, which grants rights of access to the foreshore, is not being contested, this clause does not give rights of access over Midi’s property, but is only intended to give rights from two particular points.
The counter-protest adds that the Commissioner is bound to guarantee the peaceful possession of the property granted to Midi, free from any servitudes. Indeed, clause 5.1 of the Deed specifically states that this obligation excludes only the rights relating to providers of municipal services, and this solely for the purpose of maintaining such services.
Whilst maintaining its rights at law to prevent public access over its private property, as outlined above, Midi has heard what the government, the Gżira local council and public opinion have had to say, and, without prejudice to its rights at law, is prepared to allow pedestrian access until the development has been completed (at which stage access is governed by the deed) over part of its property, and specifically the southfacing road leading from the current entrance gate to the foreshore below the steps under Fort Manoel.
From this point, the public will be able to walk around the foreshore of the entire island, always within a five-metre distance from the seashore.
Of course, Midi will require the Planning Authority to sanction certain fencing, signage and other security equipment needed to render the area safe. During this time, the company is prepared to accede to the request by the Gżira local council, as expressed in its press release of 16 September, 2016, viz: “Until the infrastructure and security measures are implemented, controlled pedestrian access under surveillance will be given to the public during the weekends from 8am to 8pm.” This will start with effect from this coming weekend.
Midi expects the public to respect the five-metre limitation from the foreshore, and not to trespass beyond onto its private property, except for the south-facing access road, as happened yet again last weekend, when some of those who entered forcefully went into Fort Manoel and forced open the door to the recently restored chapel devoted to St Anthony.
Midi solicits the Gżira local council to assume responsibility for anyone entering the island beyond the foreshore, not least in the interests of their own safety.
Midi is planning to once again hold an open weekend within a few weeks, when the public can visit Fort Manoel to view the restoration works carried out.
Midi regrets the attempt made to make it appear to have acted abusively, and hence is contesting through the counter-protest. However it would like to show its goodwill in acceding to the requests made to access the foreshore over its property. It hopes this will bring this sad saga to a satisfactory close.
Midi’s CEO, Luke Coppini, added that the masterplan being carried out by world renowned architectural firm Foster & Partners should be completed by the end of this year and will include all the public access stipulated in the deed of emphyteusis as well as a public park.