The Malta Independent 24 January 2022, Monday

TMID Editorial: Marsascala marina... time for government to listen

Tuesday, 30 November 2021, 09:54 Last update: about 3 months ago

93% of people who responded to an online survey are against the proposed Yacht Marina in Marsascala.

The survey in question, organised by Valerie Visanich, from the Department of Sociology at the University of Malta, showed that just over 1,100 valid responses were secured. Around 70% of the survey respondents are Marsascala full-time residents; while another 8% are seasonal or part-time residents.

Transport Malta had, in August, issued a document proposing a massive yacht marina sprawling across Marsascala Bay. The 52-page pre-qualification questionnaire document presented a preliminary design for the marina which sprawls across the whole of the bay and caters for a total of over 700 yachts of varying lengths.

The marina proposal has seen heavy criticism since it was first announced, and has also seen a number of protests held, which were organised by Moviment Graffitti. Among other things, activists argued that the proposal came as a surprise and shock to everyone as “none of the residents had been consulted before the plans surfaced.”

Transport Malta, in a statement said that the impression being given by some that plans for the marina had been finalised is “completely mistaken.” What is published, it said, is nothing more than a call for those interested in developing a marina.  The process, it said, is at a very early stage.

It is quite astonishing how the government comes out with projects like this, as it had done for the Zonqor campus idea among others, without proper consultation beforehand, blindsiding residents with a massive plan without really doing preliminary consultation first.

Some such projects are massive and affect the lives of many, potentially changing the very face of a locality.

The government should speak to residents first, get an idea of what their vision for the locality is and work around that, and not have a massive proposal thrust before them for consultation, making it seem like things that could change their way of life are already set in stone.

Comments received in the survey read that the proposal would “stifle and throttle the only significant open space left in this fast growing locality; lead to pollution of the bay and the destruction of its natural environment, as well as that of Il-Maghluq saline ponds; obliterate the fundamental characteristics of this fishing village; compromise spaces and areas that are currently used by the public for relaxation and swimming;  threaten the livelihood of fishers whose boats navigate in the Bay; increase vehicular traffic into the area and compound an already serious traffic and parking situation; destroy the locality’s current aesthetic and cultural appeal to tourists and visitors; and eliminate a unique public good for the benefit of a few foreigners.”

The opposition has already slammed the current marina plans. Prime Minister Robert Abela had, a few months ago, insisted that despite the issue of the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) for bidders interested in the concession, the project was still at a consultation stage and “nothing is cast in stone”. It’s time the government take serious action on the concerns raised, provide an update on this proposal, and change or scrap it.

 

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