The Malta Independent 22 March 2019, Friday

Manoel Island ‘open to the public again’ as activists cut through MIDI gates and fences

Saturday, 10 September 2016, 12:05 Last update: about 4 years ago

Activists from the Kamp Emergenza Ambjent this morning cut through a fence and broke open a gate that was blocking public access to the foreshore at Manoel Island.

The activists were joined by Gzira Mayor Conrad Borg Manche. The Gzira local council recently initiated legal proceedings against the MIDI consortium, saying that it was breaching its contract terms by barring public access to the foreshore.

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MIDI was granted a concession for the development of Manoel Island, where it has restored the historic fort and intends to develop a 'Mediterranean-style' village and yacht marina, in 2000. The council insists that, in terms of the contract, the consortium was not allowed to block off access to the foreshore.

It also insists that, while Fort Manoel has been restored, it is not open to the public and is only used for private events.

“Today, activists involved in Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent are opening access to Manoel Island and are camping here to ensure this open access. The public is invited to come, visit and enjoy a place which has had its access closed by MIDI for the past 16 years,” the group said.

“Concerned citizens are participating in this action with the support of Moviment Graffitti, Żminijietna, Friends of the Earth – Malta, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħajr and Ramblers Association Malta.

The case of Manoel Island is emblematic of the dire situation in Malta in which the rich and powerful take over public spaces and close off the public’s rightful access to the foreshore as well as other places. Prior to a government concession granted to MIDI, people were able to use Manoel Island unhindered, and many have memories associated with this place, as one of the few open spaces in a congested and heavily built-up area. It is an utter disgrace that MIDI has been allowed to close access to the foreshore, while using Manoel Island, including its historical fortress, for exclusive private activities against payment.”

The group said MIDI cannot close access since under the concession granted to them by the government, MIDI had no right to shut off access to Manoel Island and the Public Domain Act stipulates that the foreshore is to be automatically considered as public domain and access to it cannot be denied.

“Moreover, we believe that Manoel Island should be given back to the people and that the whole area should become a recreational space to be enjoyed by everyone.”

Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar said it fully supports KEA's call for Manoel Island to be included as public domain and turned into a National Park.

 

“In June 2016, FAA had already put forward such a proposal, however to date, the Planning Authority has made no progress on its processing despite its obligation to do so as specified in the Public Domain Act.

FAA states that Manoel Island's inclusion as public domain would not only contribute to an improved quality of life by granting the public the right to green public spaces but will furthermore contribute to their physical and mental well-being, with the site acting as the sole wooded area in the over-urbanized and congested North Harbour region.”

Pictures: Kamp Emergenza Ambjent/Facebook

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