Coast usurped for profits of the few without public domain protection – ADPD

Green Party says commercialisation of Maltese coast is leading to the takeover of every open space

L-R: Brian Decelis, Carmel Cacopardo, back row (right) Dr Melissa Bagley
L-R: Brian Decelis, Carmel Cacopardo, back row (right) Dr Melissa Bagley

The commercialisation of the Matese coast is leading to the takeover of every open space and a negative impact on the quality of life or residents and visitors to these areas of relaxation., ADPD chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said today on the proposed Villa Rosa project in St George’s Bay, St Julian’s.

“Once again we are facing another controversy on a project proposed around St George’s Bay. After all the protests by civil society regarding the DB project in Pembroke and the aborted masterplan for Paceville some six years ago, this massive project is definitely not acceptable,” Cacopardo said.

The proposed project on the Villa Rosa site includes three towers – one of 34 floors and two of 27 floors each – that will cast a shadow on the bay and impact negatively the local environment both during its construction and during its eventual operation. This project will cover a footprint of almost 50,000 square metres with a development mix of tourism, business and entertainment facilities in an area which is already overdeveloped and overcrowded practically all year round.

“Once again it is the case where not only is the impact of the project on the residents and visitors being ignored, but also that the public purse will be expected to foot the bill for the upgrade to infrastructure required to support this massive development,” said ADPD deputy secretary-general Dr Melissa Bagley. “How long do we have to suffer such projects where public land is handed over for the profits of the few?”

Cacopardo said Malta’s coastline had been usurped by private interests at Manoel Island, Balluta Bay, the Birgu waterfront and yacht marina, the Valletta Waterfront and proposed marinas for Marsaskala and Kalkara, despite public domain status.

“Environmental NGOs identified a number of sites that qualified for protection but no action has been taken by the authorities. Not even one site has been declared as protected under this law yet. Why approve such laws if there is no intention to implement them?” asked Cacopardo.

A Deloitte study commissioned by the MHRA found that Malta would require 4.7 million tourists annually if all the current projects achieve an occupancy of around 80%. “This is pure madness. It would mean more than doubling the current number of tourist arrivals!” Cacopardo said. “Even the government-stated target of 3 million tourists per annum is too high. The Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) would be more on target if it would raise the alarm that unbridled speculative development is killing the goose that lays the golden egg – our country’s character.”

“Commercialisation of the coast should cease immediately  lest we allow the takeover of every open space remaining along the coast. Enough is really and truly enough – we want the coast, or, what’s left of it, to be protected for the enjoyment of all and not just for those who can afford it. The coast belongs to us all,” Cacopardo said.