Malta Independent

FAA appealing PA decision on Manoel Island ‘mega developmen­t’

● Fundraiser launched to cover costs

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Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA) announced yesterday that it is appealing the Planning Authority’s decision on MIDI’s developmen­t of Manoel Island.

The master-plan approved on 7 March includes the developmen­t of 650 luxury apartments, a fivestar hotel, an imposing new vehicle bridge and roundabout, an expanded marina for super yachts and extensive land reclamatio­n works.

The FAA yesterday highlighte­d how the project will result in:

■ 650 new apartments generating more people and traffic in a highly congested area;

■ Hugely increased building heights which will ruin iconic views across Marsamxett Harbour to Valletta;

■ The loss of a large section of the Gzira promenade, the only public open space and yearround recreation­al meeting place remaining in the area which will be taken up by a massive new bridge and roundabout on Triq Ix-Xatt;

■ The removal of the only slipway and ancillary facilities in the Harbour. This slipway is used by many fishing enthusiast­s, hobbyists and small boat owners;

■ The narrowing of the sea channel through land reclamatio­n between Gzira and Manoel Island will increase the risk of flooding of Triq ix-Xatt and bring the noise and pollution of the yacht-yard industrial activity closer to a residentia­l area.

“All this,” the FAA said, “will negatively impact the well-being of residents and further erode Malta’s tourism appeal. EU studies show that Malta’s air pollution causes more extra deaths a year than tobacco smoking, due to the combined effect of vehicle and constructi­on air pollution and population density on residents’ health. Trees are our only way to reduce air pollution and time spent in green areas is essential to physical and mental health.

“Malta is desperatel­y lacking green spaces for leisure and recreation in urban areas - more building and traffic affects us all on our tiny, overpopula­ted and polluted island.”

FAA’s appeal follows a campaign by the citizens’ group Inħobbu l-Gżira which has worked against the project, launching a petition calling on Parliament to turn Manoel Island into a National Heritage Park.

Over 8,000 signed the petition offline and online, the highest number of signatures for an environmen­t related parliament­ary petition in this legislatur­e.

The FAA is now calling on the public for assistance “to move on to the next step and save this wooded heritage gem for posterity”.

For the FAA to make its appeal, it needs €7,000 to cover the cost of the appeal to the Environmen­t and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT) and pay for legal and architectu­ral fees incurred to take the case to the tribunal.

FAA is calling on the general public to help fund the appeal by donating to the PayPal account payment@faa.org.mt or sending a cheque to Manoel Island Appeal, FAA, 23 St Anne Street, Floriana.

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