The Malta Independent 10 December 2018, Monday

Planning Ombudsman tells PA to issue enforcement notice on illegal Mellieha quay

Sunday, 18 November 2018, 08:00 Last update: about 22 days ago

The Ombudsman’s Office has instructed the Planning Authority to initiate enforcement procedures in relation to the construction of a rudimentary concrete quay at Santa Marija Estate, in Mellieha, after it found that the work should have been covered by a permit.

Earlier this year, PN local council candidate Ivan Castillo had reported the ‘illegal’ work to the Planning Authority but said no action was taken. Castillo had uploaded photos showing the crude work that was being carried out at Xatt Santa Marija. The photos showed that metals beams had been laid in preparation for a new layer of concrete.

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The PA later told this newspaper that since the work carried out was repairs, and did not consist of the complete rebuilding of the structure, no permit was required.

Castillo, however, had argued that the jetty was being rebuilt after it had collapsed and, as such, the work needed to be covered by a permit. He had then filed a complaint with the Commissioner for Environment and Planning in the Ombudsman’s Office, alleging illegality and substandard construction.

In reply sent this week, the commissioner, Perit Alan Saliba, said the Works and Infrastructure Department said it was not involved in the work while Transport Malta never replied to his queries.

The Planning Authority told Saliba that no notification order was required since the work carried out “did not constitute the complete or substantial demolition and re-construction, or replacement, of buildings or structures”.

Replying, the commissioner asked how this could be the case when the work included the complete reconstruction of the same quay from sub-water foundation up to the concrete platform.

In reply, the PA said that the quay “required maintenance work in view of its exposure to the open sea. The work mainly consisted in consolidating a new layer of concrete (on top of and taking up the same footprint of the existing quay) with steel beams for the top part and inserting steel rods vertically at intervals throughout the quay footprint.

“The removal of a layer of concrete cannot be considered as a substantial demolition of the quay, especially when one notices that the quay is still above the water line level.”

But the planning commissioner noted that the work did in fact constitute the complete reconstruction of the quay.

Whether this work was carried out by Transport Malta or not, it does not justify the lack of action by the PA in this regard according to the Development Notification Order, he said.

The law which says that emergency work can be carried out by government entities without a permit to uphold public safety cannot be invoked in this case because neither the Works and Infrastructure Department nor TM had confirmed that they carried out these works.

As such, the commissioner wrote, the complaint is being sustained.

The Planning Authority will initiate and follow-up enforcement procedures in relation to the construction of this quay at Xatt ta’ Santa Marija, the commissioner wrote.

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