The Malta Independent 26 November 2022, Saturday
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PA refuses to sanction illegal gate blocking Bahrija coastline

Albert Galea Friday, 8 April 2022, 14:07 Last update: about 9 months ago

The Planning Authority has refused an application to sanction an illegal gate which was blocking access to the Blata tal-Melh coastline in Bahrija.

The case officer had recommended that the application for the gate – which was put up without any permits – be refused as it is in breach of the country’s rural policy, which bans gates blocking pre-1967 footpaths and because it was in breach of SPED policies which regulate public access to the coastline.

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The case was heard on Friday having been deferred by the Planning Commission last February so that it could be ascertained that the footpath existed prior to 1968.

The gate was put up illegally early in 2021, and blocks public access to a stretch of coastline known as il-Blata tal Melh.

However, the Planning Authority was prevented from actually removing the illegal gate because an application was presented by a company called Touchstone Limited, which is owned by the landowners Eliza Limited.

The developer’s architect Robert Musumeci in August then requested a suspension of the application in August, further delaying matters up to last February – six months later.

Now that the Planning Authority has refused the application, the owner must remove the illegality or face a daily fine of up to €50 a day.  

This being said, the owner can still appeal against the refusal and against the enforcement order itself, which could delay the gate’s removal even further.

This is due to a regulatory decision taken in 2015 to re-introduce the right for developers to sanction developments in Outside Development Zones – developments which would have been built illegally, such as this gate – including Natura 2000 sites like the Bahrija coastline.

This right had been removed by the PN administration in 2012, only to be introduced by the PL government in 2015.

 

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