The Malta Independent 24 May 2018, Thursday

Sliema residents dismayed by ongoing excavation works despite ‘summer break’

Helena Grech Saturday, 17 June 2017, 16:20 Last update: about 12 months ago

Sliema residents in the vicinity of Triq Sant’ Antnin and Tigne Seafront are fuming after disruptive excavation works related to a development project continue despite a summer break thta supposedly came into force.

Through the strength of legal notice 295 of 2007, demolition and excavation works in designated tourist zones must stop between 15 June and 30 September. The idea behind it is to limit the environmental degradation, noise pollution, incessant dust and disruptive outcomes at a time of the year where Malta is flooded with tourists and locals back home for the summer.

The zones which are included in the summer break list are decided upon by the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), which reserves the right to redraw the boundaries whenever it sees fit.

Informed sources confirmed that developers seeking an exemption must apply with the MTA. Enforcement of the summer break scheme is the responsibility of yet another entity, the Building Regulations Office which deals with construction site management.

Residents who live close to a development on the Tigne Seafront phoned this newsroom in order to express their deepest frustration about waking up this morning to the deafening sound excavation works and find their front and back terraces yet again covered in dust.

Many residents were planning a big clean-up of their homes because they expected the nearby development to stop, in view of the summer recess. Questions were sent to the MTA about whether this particular development was granted an exemption.

Officially, the only reference made to such an exemption that could be found by this newsroom is in the actual law, where it says:“Deviations for works in tourism zones shall also require the clearance of the competent authority responsible for tourism.”

Deviations refer to deviations for provisions laid out by the law, the provision being the 15 June to 30 September hiatus on demolition and excavation in specific zones.

One particular resident described the nuisance of not being able to take advantage of the island’s sunny weather by having to hang clothes out to dry inside the house. In addition, residents in the vicinity have been forced to keep all windows and doors shut to avoid heavy dust getting inside.

This means that as the temperature continues to rise to sweltering conditions, residents are forced to cool themselves off with expensive air conditioning rather than take advantage of the sea-front breeze.

While excavation works have been going on for some time, and the developers were perfectly within the law, residents were so disappointed because if an exemption was granted, they were not made aware and woke up to an ugly surprise yesterday morning.

If the development in question did indeed manage to have an exemption granted, it is not known for how long this extension extends.

Questions about whether an exemption has been granted, and what criteria are needed have been sent to the MTA. No answer had been received by the time of going to print.

A search on the MTA website for an application to an exemption was not successful, and an internet search about any available details was also unsuccessful.

Beyond the summer exemption, Sliema residents are constantly inundated with construction works. The area attracts more and more people each year, resulting in a constant stream of blocks of flats going up and extension works being carried out on existing ones.

Demolition and excavation works are by far the stage of construction that causes the most inconvenience to nearby residents.

One particular family who had rented an apartment one year in advance in order to visit Malta from Australia for a wedding are now in the process of requesting a full refund from their local travel agency. They had specifically requested a sea-front property that would allow them to enjoy their leisure time from the comfort of a rented property, however constant excavation from early in the morning to late at night prevented them from doing so.

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