The Malta Independent 26 March 2019, Tuesday

Montekristo claims illegal sites ‘outside’ trade fair area

Malta Independent Wednesday, 9 July 2014, 09:40 Last update: about 6 years ago

Multiple enforcement orders issued by MEPA on a number of illegally built structures at Montekristo Estates in Hal Farrug have nothing to do with the trade fair grounds, a company official has insisted.

Pierre Fenech, General Manager of MKIC Ltd – the company that runs the estate, insisted that all structures and areas where the Fiera l-Kbira is being organised are in line with the law and claimed that illegally built structures fall outside the trade fair area. He confirmed that there are a number of “irregular”structures but insisted that the company, owned by the Polidano Brothers, is holding talks with MEPA to try and find a solution.

The Malta Independent on Sunday revealed that Montekristo Estates managed to obtain a trading licence – giving it the go-ahead to organise the trade fair – despite the numerous enforcement notices served against the property. MEPA’s online map server shows that almost the entire estate is covered by enforcement notices. But in comments to this media house yesterday, Mr Fenech insisted that there are no illegalities related to the trade fair grounds, despite the fact that the fair is spread around the complex. “The trading licence was issued in the name of MKIC Ltd, which is the company that runs Montekristo Estates. Everything is in order in the areas where the fair is being organised.”

Montekristo Estates have been granted a trading licence, despite having numerous enforcement orders, delineated in red.

Mr Fenech said Montekristo is engaged in discussions with MEPA on the pending irregularities. “We have removed a number of the illegal structures and we have cleared away rubble and scrap. This work was carried out with good will from the owners, who had promised back in November 2013 that they would adhere to planning laws and regulations.” The Montekristo official insisted that all works were carried out by company staff,  and not by MEPA, but the authority supervised the works.

Mr Fenech did not comment on the Montekristo animal park, which is being advertised as one of the fair’s main attractions. On Monday, MEPA CEO Johann Buttigieg confirmed that the ‘zoo’ is illegal.

The Montekristo animal park is being advertised as one of the fair's main attractions.

On the so called “De Redin tower,” which MEPA had intended to demolish last year, Mr Fenech said the structure has nothing to do with the fair. On the car park, which is also covered by an enforcement notice, Dr Jean Paul Sammut, who is legal advisor to the Polidanos, said that this is an open space with no structures and can be used. “You can see from the aerial footage we have released that no new structures have been built for the fair so the enforcement notices have absolutely nothing to do with the fair.”

The so called 'De Redin' tower was supposed to be demolished in November but recent images suggest that roofing works have been carried out since.

Police say MEPA gave green light for issuance of trade licence

A spokesperson for Acting Police Commissioner Ray Zammit yesterday confirmed that MEPA did give its go ahead to the Trade Department to issue a trading licence to Montekristo Estates.

Acting Police Commissioner Ray Zammit

This is the exact contrary of what MEPA CEO Johann Buttigieg told The Malta Independent on Monday, when he insisted that no clearance from MEPA had been issued. Mr Buttigieg told this paper that clearances are usually issued by either MEPA or the Police, but the authority had not issued any clearance.

But Mr Zammit’s spokesperson yesterday insisted that the Police can only issue an objection or a no-objection on its part and,  “since everything was in order from MEPA’s and Trade Department’s end” there was no reason to object. Illegal development is not the Police’s remit.

MEPA CEO Johann Buttigieg

The spokesperson insisted that trade licences are issued in conjunction by the Trade Department and MEPA and confirmed that the planning authority had given a green light in the case of Montekristo.

Parliamentary Secretary for planning has nothing to add

In the meantime, this paper sent questions on Monday to the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for MEPA, Michael Falzon, asking him for his opinion on the matter and on whether he agrees that sites with numerous enforcement orders should be granted a trading licence.

Parliamentary Secretary Michael Falzon

In his reply Dr Falzon said that he was aware that MEPA had already answered our questions, but when this paper pressed him for an answer and pointed out that we were seeking his personal opinion, rather than MEPA’s official reply, Dr Falzon said he had nothing further to add.  

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