Still no ac­tion taken on il­le­gal tun­nel at Fekruna Bay

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Kevin Schem­bri Or­land Photos: Jonathan Borg

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.

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