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NGOs protest against Marsalforn beach encroachment

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Otters-restaurant.jpgEnvironment NGOs Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) and Ramblers Association of Malta (RAM) have protested strongly against further encroachment on the public right and ownership of the foreshore. This time the threat emanates from the building application submitted by Otters ASC of Marsalforn, Gozo.

It is to be noted that the original 234 square meter waterpolo facilities granted to the club have been sub-leased as a prime site restaurant. A further 597 square meters of foreshore was transferred to the club by government in 2004, without rights of public access being reserved. The club is now applying for a permit for the construction of a sea-water pool, pump room, stores and restrooms to complement various illegalities on site, such as the concrete car park, that have been overlooked with impunity, the NGO’s said.

The NGOs added that they cannot tolerate the expropriation of more foreshore, this time under the pretext of sporting facilities. The waterpolo club already enjoys adequate land and amenities. It is evident even from the size of the proposed pool (15X30 ft) that the development is meant for commercial and not sports purposes. Rationally a pool for sporting purposes should be Olympic sized and located centrally in close proximity to the existing sports complex where its can be used by all, under all weather conditions throughout the year.

Refusal of this application is called for on the grounds that it violates the Structure Plan concerning not only access to the seashore but also conservation of heritage. The application threatens destruction of centuries-old salt-pans cut into the top rock on this site. Proposals for a wooden path on the edge of the rocks to allow public access highlight the mockery of the constitutional right to the foreshore.

The NGOs concluded that further development which deprives the public of free use of the beach, as has already happened in other areas, is tantamount to perpetrating grave environmental injustice.

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