Still no action taken on illegal tunnel at Fekruna Bay
An enforcement notice has been at the site of the illegally-built tunnel at Fekruna Bay since 1996 and yet still no action has been taken.
Fekruna Bay is a secluded inlet to the side of Xemxija Hill near St Paul’s Bay that is known for being popular with locals during the summer months. Mr Joseph Fenech, the owner of the Ambassador Hotel just across the road, had built a tunnel without permission to the bay.
The Planning Authority, asked whether any action has been taken, and if not why, told The Malta Independent on Sunday: “There is an active enforcement notice (1040/96). The authority has an extensive list of illegal developments that is pending direct action. The authority’s main priority in this regard is to address illegal development in ODZ areas and illegalities that are creating an inconvenience to residents.”
This response indicates that this particular situation is not high on the priority list as far as enforcement is concerned.
Residents in the area who spoke with this newsroom also complained about a wall that blocks access from the road to the bay. This is the only point of easy access to the bay, with steep rocky slopes elsewhere.
Photographs were shown to this newsroom of youngsters hopping over the wall to reach the bay, which is actually quite dangerous, due to the gradient of the land from the road to the sea.
This newsroom posed the following question to the Planning Authority: “There is a wall blocking off the bay from Triq ilFekruna. Is this wall meant to be there and if yes, is there supposed to be an opening through which the public can access the bay? As it is, people have to climb over the wall and jump down, which is quite dangerous.”
A representative from the Planning Authority replied: “Further to your query, kindly note that a review of aerial photos shows that the wall in question has been in place since at least 1994 and its purpose is to delineate the road in a manner that offers traffic/pedestrian safety.”
The PA response did not answer whether there is supposed to be an opening for public access or not, yet a resident who spoke to this newsroom said that there is meant to be.
The site in question has been in the news many times over the years, most recently regarding an appeal to the scheduling of the site – which was scheduled in 1996 under the “Natural landscape” category.
Mr Fenech, who also owns land in the scheduled area, is appealing against the scheduling and reports indicate that he intends to construct two villas. The next appeal sitting before the Environment and Review Tribunal will take place on 29 November.
Back in 2011, a court order required the Planning Authority to pay Mr Fenech €15,000 in compensation after ruling that the scheduling of the area violated the owner’s right to enjoy his property.