Friday, 9 December 2011

‘Boathouses must not get power supply’

‘Boathouses must not get power supply’

Seven environmental groups are appealing to the planning authority to refuse a request to build an Enemalta substation to provide electricity to the illegal Armier boathouses.

Approving this application “will go down in the annals of our history as one of the most irresponsible, illegal and unjust precedents the planning authority has ever set,” the groups said in a statement.

Ramblers Association of Malta, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Malta Organic and Agriculture Movement, Nature Trust Malta, Friends of the Earth and BirdLife are “strongly urging” the planning authority board to refuse the application, in line with the case officer’s recommendation. The request comes up for decision next month. The substation, for which an application was filed by Enemalta in 2007, would strengthen the power supply to the estimated 800 illegal boathouses built in the protected ecological area of Armier, the groups said.

“The existing squatters have, in the past, convinced Enemalta to supply electricity to their habitations. This was not enough – they also convinced Enemalta to apply for a new substation,” they argued.

The case officer, “rightly so”, recommended the development for refusal, as illegal development in the area would benefit from it.

The seven groups quoted the case officer report which said: “There is no reason, from a planning point of view, as to why the substation should be permitted, considering how the proposed structure is aimed at providing services to beach rooms that are used as illegal holiday homes proposed to be demolished through the structure plan policies.

“Approving this application will simply encourage more building abuse that the planning authority claims it is trying to stamp out,” the groups said.


Joseph Calleja

Yesterday, 15:08

Because that is how politicians get their votes. The government is allowed to brake the law anytime and anywhere. Who is going to stop them? Only in Malta.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

NGOs insist Mepa should turn down substation application to serve boathouses

NGOs insist Mepa should turn down substation application to serve boathouses

Seven environmental NGOs insisted today that the Mepa Board must turn down an application by Enemalta to build an electricity sub-station in Marfa - serving people who built 'boathouses' without permits.

The board is due to decide on the application on January 6.

The NGOs are the Ramblers Association of Malta, Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Din L-Art Helwa, Malta Organic and Agriculture Movement, Nature Trust Malta, Friends of the Earth Malta and Birdlife Malta.

"Approving such an application would simply encourage more of the building abuse that Mepa claims it is trying to stamp out. As such, an approval of this application will go down in the annals of our history as one of the most irresponsible, illegal and unjust precedents that MEPA has ever set," the NGOs said.

"For a member of the European Union that prides itself on its sense of democracy and justice to allow prime land to be illegally seized, and subsequently have this occupation blessed by a government desperate for votes on the eve of not one but two elections, is a betrayal of every tax-paying citizen on these Islands," the NGOs said.

They said the area of 67,000 sq mt of land at Armier bay is illegally occupied by 800 illegal structures, "but if the squatters' political arm-twisting is successful, this will increase tremendously."

The NGOs explained that an agreement signed with the Nationalist government on the eve of the 2003 election could extend the existing 67,000 square meters to around 231,000 square meters or 230 tumuli of public land, against an annual rent of €350,000. The pledge was renewed by the leader of the Nationalist Party just before the 2008 elections when he committed himself to “consult with Mepa” on the pending applications. The squatters’ lobby has also made back-room agreements with the LP just before the last two national elections, the NGOs said.

In 2004, Armier Developments, the squatters’ company, submitted applications proposing the development of 1,589 rooms, five playgrounds and a bowls pitch, a minimarket, three restaurants, a two-storey garage, three community centres and a clinic in an area spanning Ramlet il-Qortin, Ta’ Macca u l-Armier, the Barriera tal-Ahrax quarry, Little Armier and the Torri l-Abjad zone.

Parts of these areas are supposedly protected as Areas of Ecological Importance (Habitat Directive), Special Protection Area (Birds Directive), Area of Ecological Importance/Site of Scientific Importance and Special Area of Conservation - International Importance.

"The existing squatters have in the past convinced Enemalta to supply electricity to their habitations. This was not enough – they have also convinced Enemalta to apply for a new substation in order to strengthen the supply to their 'boathouses', the NGOs said.

The Mepa case officer has recommended refusal by the Mepa board on the basis that this substation would benefit illegal development in the area.

In his report he said: "there is no reason, from a planning point of view, as to why the substation should be permitted, considering how the proposed structure is aimed at providing services to beach rooms that are used as illegal holiday homes proposed to be demolished through the Structure Plan policies".

The Planning Directorate is therefore advising the MEPA board to turn down this application.

Tony Zammit

James McIntosh

Dec 8th, 13:02

What a Government gives out , a government can take away. This has happened all over the world and locally since Governments were formed.
It seems that in Malta the more acute the disregard of law the more reward there is for the same lawlessness.

Wilfred Camilleri

Dec 7th, 19:25

Don't pin this just on the PN. The PL is just as guilty! Outrage should be directed at both parties. It's only when the leaders of either or both parties state unequivocally that they will demolish all illegal buildings wherever they may be can voters make a decision which party to vote for.

M Farrugia

Dec 7th, 20:18

Wifred Camiller@ very well said. it is the responsibility of both political parties and not of the government only. Hope that Rodrick Galdes on this occaiosn will vote against the building of the substation as he did in many other cases.

Joseph Calleja

Dec 7th, 21:18

Don't blame the PN or PL entirely. These so called Boat Houses are there to stay and one of the reasons is that a lot of them are owned by politicians and or their families. If like everybody says, these boat houses are illegal, How come they are afforded all utilities, including water, electricity and sewer? Can anybody really say where the raw sewage from these and all other boat houses on the islands of Malta and Gozo end up? Somebody had mentioned that some of that raw sewage is ending up in the sea water where adults, children and tourists like to swim. I believe that Dwejra was one of these places? Too many votes involved. Does anybody care? Don't depend on our government, but maybe Astrid Vella can answer that question.

Joseph N. Attard

Dec 8th, 00:29

Mr. Camilleri, please do not misunderstand me. The whole rot, like many other rotten things in the 1970's and early eaighties, started under a Labour Party government. But the fact is that the PN has not reversed these glaring illegalities and injustices. Indeed, it is reported that the PN has promised certain things to these land robbers before both the 2003 and 2008 elections. As Mr.Farrugia says, it is the responsibility of both political parties. But even if the PL tries to make political mileage out of the whole thing, the PN should not follow suit. I still maintain that it stands to gain more than it will lose be such a courageous decision.

Joe Gatt

Yesterday, 09:12

Joseph Calleja

Dec 7th, 21:18
These so called Boat Houses are there to stay and one of the reasons is that a lot of them are owned by politicians and or their families.

Complaints alone, in Malta will acheive no results.
Name and shame these Individuals, at Election Time,


It is up to the Honest Maltese to clean up the Mess.

M Farrugia

Dec 7th, 20:07

have you already forgotten that enemalta is just a puppet on a string.

M Farrugia

Dec 7th, 20:16

Mr. Kreupl, this is a very old story which started more than 35/40 years ago. I agree with you that the MEPA need to start saying NO to the present government not on this case only but on many other cases. I do not know whether you was in Malta when the Laboutr Patry legalised a number of caravan and rooms which were illegally set up at the top of Ghadira. At that time no one uttered a single word. When the Nationalist government in the 90's tried to remove some of the rooms at armier bay, he did ot find any co-opeation from anyone. This is a poltical story which both political parties in Malta have their thumb in it. If they really want to eradicate this illegality they must meet together and support each other. If this is not done then both parties will be defending their poltical interest not to loose vote. Hope that if this is approved the Labour Party will issue a statement as it happenes in many other cases to critise the MEPA board decision. We have to wait and see what is going to happen.

Mr Francis Isherwood

Dec 7th, 18:20

And what about all the illegal buildings in St Thomas Bay, Lambordi, some even have electrical supplies without a meter??? where is the enforcement officer, he is supposed to visit his 'area' at least two times per week, and two new buildings have been built since last Christmas, and one has been extended to rival South Folks

Collen Isherwood

Joe Vella

Dec 7th, 18:41

D.Xerri the problem is that the PN is always left to CLEAN-UP IL-HNIZIRIJIET tal PL. It was during the PL time hat the boat houses were build and provided with electricity. Amongst them there were those that sat on Th Government side in the House of Representatives

Wilfred Camilleri

Dec 7th, 19:15

Both political parties are guilty in this instance. Both parties must commit on Parliament to end this farce. Both parties are afraid to lose votes. I haven't heard either leader stating in public in clear terms that they will bring an end to this farce.

M Farrugia

Dec 7th, 20:23

il-Gvern nazzjonlista ipprova iwaqqa xi uhdu min dawn id-djar imma kulhadd jaf li sab resistenza mis-sidien. IL-Labour Party tal-1996-1998 ma ghamel xejn lanqas sabiex dawn il-illegalitajiet jitnehhew. Anzi nafu li hafna min dawn in-nies li jokkupaw dawn il-kmamar ilegali itajru il-bandiera tal-labour fuq il-kmamar f;certa okkazzjonijet. L-istess jaghmlu dawk tal-ghadira li kien il-labour partu li taghom il-permess ghax huma min huma fil-maggoranza taghhom. Allura tajjeb li nghidu li ma hemmx dak jew dan il-gvern li huwa f'izball imma il-politikanti kollha li matul dawn l-ahhar 40 sena kienu fit-tmexxija.

M Farrugia

Dec 7th, 20:27

naqbel mieghek mija fil-mija ikser il-ligi u llum jew ghada b'xi mod jew iehor tigi ippremjat. Dur dawra ma malta u ara kemm hawn lukandi, restauranti blokok ta flats li inbnew mhux skond il-permess u qisu ma gara xejn. Hekk jitmexxa dan il-pajjiz dawn ghax gfhandhom is-sahha hadd ma jista ghalihom, u inti jekk taghmel xi haga hazina tal-MEPA jeqerduk bl-inkwiet li jaghtuk. Taf ghaliex ghax inti dajjef bhali.

Edward Mallia

Dec 7th, 17:10

Come on Mr. Camilleri. By this morning the government should have already fired the Mepa board and the chairman for their "performance" last Monday in granting an IPPC permit to the Delimara Extension to burn Heavy Fuel Oil, on palpably fake arguments. And please remember that we are in election mode already.
What is the betting on Minister Fenech putting down water and electricity charges by or soon after the next Budget? He has already said that now is not the time to put them up, possibly to safeguard the living standards of the poor "boathouse" occupants.

Wilfred Camilleri

Dec 7th, 18:51

Mr. Mallia, let's fight one battle at a time.

This is about people stealing public land for their personal use with the government's blessing. Both parties are guilty of this particular injustice because both parties do not have the guts to come out and state unequivocally that they will remove all illegal buildings on public land (not just selectively removing buildings to appear being tough) without compensation. Both parties should commit in Parliament that people occupying public land illegally have a fixed number of months to remove their belongings before the police and the AFM clear them out and raze their buildings. Anyone resisting such an order should be hauled to jail and charged with illegal use of public property and breaking the law. In other countries, people doing this would be forced to pay the cost of clearing the land and restoring the land to its previous state.

This is what this is about not the power station.

Simon Oosterman

Dec 7th, 16:38

Well said

Giovann Demartino

Dec 7th, 17:50

And YOU are our President!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

NGOs support farmers' bid against Nadur Cemetery development

NGOs support farmers' bid against Nadur Cemetery development

Nine NGOs are supporting Nadur farmers in their bid to halt cemetery development that will damage freshwater springs that have been used for centuries.

The NGOs are Nature Trust (Malta), Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar, the Malta Organic and Agriculture Movement, Moviment Ħarsien Ħondoq, Youth for the Environment, Grupp Universitarji Għawdxin, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Friends of the Earth (Malta) and Ramblers' Association.

For over five centuries the terraced citrus orchards below Nadur have been fed by the Għajn Qasab springs funnelling rainwater from around 200 tumoli of adjacent garigue.

The Order of St John recognised the benefits of this precious freshwater resource and many of their stone channels still distribute the spring water in the terraced fields according to a traditional system of one weekday assigned to each farmer for irrigation.

The freshwater at Għajn Qasab provides the livelihood of these farmers cultivating approximately 5,000 citrus trees and vegetable patches below these springs.

In 2006, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority approved a 600 grave cemetery, at the very heart of the site despite objections by farmers who feared the contamination of these natural springs.

The permit, issued against all technical advice, saw the excavation with heavy machinery of the site above the springs, destroying historical techniques dating back to the knights, shattering bell-shaped wells that stored water, cutting off one of the valley springs and causing damage to the others, the organisations said.

In August 2008, when excavations commenced, the farmers requested a prohibitory injunction.

The court expert, whose expertise was contested by the farmers, stated that in his opinion "the construction of the cemetery will not have any detrimental effect on the quality or quantity of spring water that is used by farmers".

However, farmers' affidavits to Mepa testified to "considerable spring deviations, resulting in a two-third loss in spring water irrigation, loss of farmland dedicated to vegetable cultivation, the purchase of second-class bowser-delivered water, less citrus yields, and the shrivelling of numerous citrus trees".

This, they said, all adding up to a decline in their livelihoods. They also testified that during last year's rainy season dust and cement turned the spring water milky due to the savage excavations above the springs.

Last March, Mepa issued an enforcement notice as the developer abusively violated the permit conditions. The farmers fear that due to these violations in construction methods, the springs will in future be contaminated with dead body fluids, causing a fatal blow to the valley and their livelihood.

A report presented by hydrologist Marco Cremona noted "the very evident deterioration" of the quality of the farmers' water sources after the commencement of excavation works to make way for the cemetery.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the contamination is linked to the excavation and construction works at the cemetery, not least because the site of the cemetery lies just upstream of the farmers' springs.

"Moreover, the fact that the contamination increases (to a level that even becomes visible to the untrained eye) immediately after a rain event also shows that there is a direct and immediate hydraulic connection between the site of the cemetery and the farmers' water supply," Mr Cremona said.

The farmers appealed against the permit but the applicant continued with the excavations "at his own risk".

The Mepa Planning Appeals' Board is now examining the appeal and shall deliver judgment on December 15.

"The farmers are conscious that the Water Framework Directive, signed by the government in 2000, considers the monitoring of inland waters as urgent since these require a high degree of protection under national legislation and under the EU Habitats Directive.

"They still look to Mepa to uphold this legislation safeguarding their livelihood, and to ensure that this national natural heritage is kept alive for future generations. The NGOs call on Mepa to halt this development and rather look at the Eco Gozo vision which the present legislation is promoting for Gozo."

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Put your walking boots on

Put your walking boots on

Beauty of Malta is just a ramble away for everyone and it’s so easy to find out

The Ramblers’ Association of Malta has just launched its Autumn Walks programme including scenic routes through some of the finest and most exhilarating walking areas in the Maltese archipelago.

These popular walks encapsulate the main aims of this active NGO, mainly to promote rambling as a means of a better quality of life, to foster awareness and empathy towards Malta’s exceptional natural beauty and historical heritage and to ensure a more congenial environment throughout the Maltese countryside and coastal zone.

It may surprise visitors but after the first rains, the Maltese islands make a dramatic change as the dry, almost forbidding summer landscape rapidly changes, offering the most fascinating walks in the central Mediterranean region. They present a superb array of scenic landscape rich in geological and archaeological features, secluded beaches, ancient coastal towers, wayside chapels and vernacular art scattered in remote corners far from the hustle and bustle of the fast track of our lives.

This series of circular walks has been carefully planned to take in the rugged coastline scenery, impressive views of rock formations, a Bronze Age village (c. 800BC) complete with the bell-shaped silos then used for the storage of water or grain and the many rural characteristics dotting the Maltese countryside. These include the giren (corbelled huts), notarial deeds carved on stone, mġiebaħ (beehives) on the wild thyme covered xagħri (garigue), cart ruts, cave settlements like Għar il-Kbir in the limits of Dingli and the barumbari (pigeon houses).

Some of the walks in late autumn reveal the richness of our flora with over 1,000 varieties of delicate flowers foremost of which is the pyramidal orchid mainly growing on the garigue. The English mystic poet William Blake marvels about seeing “heaven in a wild flower”, in which case an endless paradise awaits the rambler in Malta with a feel for nature.

A walk along the green valleys of Wied Liemu and Wied Ħażrun , both rich in mediaeval remains, may regale the seasoned rambler with the discovery of the lost mediaeval chapels of St Nicholas and St James or a hamlet standing in solitary splendour.

This year, the Ramblers’ Association will be furthering its global aspiration in promoting international understanding through rambling when overseas groups will join the local clan in their pursuits.

For more information contact the Ramblers’ Association at

Mr Bugeja is honorary president of the Ramblers’ Association of Malta.

A silo pit in a Bronze Age settlement (c.800BC) in the limits of Ta’ Żuta. Photo: J.M. Falzon

The majestic cliffs along the northwest coast of the Maltese islands Photo: Romano Cassar

The pyramidal orchid, arguably the queen of the rich Maltese flora. Photo: Annalise Falzon

The secluded and inaccessible bay of Fomm ir-Riħ limits of Baħrija. Photo: Romano Cassar

Friday, 28 October 2011

NGOs call on Mepa to refuse new Hondoq application

NGOs call on Mepa to refuse new Hondoq application

A number of environmental non-governmental organisations are calling on the planning authority to refuse an application by the Qala Creek developers for a swimming lagoon.

In a statement this evening, Moviment Harsien Hondoq, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Ramblers Association, FOE Malta, Nature Trust, GUG, Din l-art Helwa and Wirt Ghawdex said that in the face of an overwhelming outcry against the proposed Hondoq project to develop a large hotel and hundreds of real estate units around a yacht marina, the developers of Qala Creek have decided to drop the idea of the marina at Hondoq Bay, limiting themselves to a 'swimming lagoon'.

However, in the 2009 EIS coordinated report the developers themselves stated "the project would struggle if it had to be developed as a stand-alone hotel".

They said that to be successful the hotel needed to be part of an integrated project with features that differentiated it from other hotels.

When discussing revenue projections, the 2007 version of the report stated: "The hotel on its own is not commercially viable. It can only succeed and be sustainable if it forms part of a much larger complex which will attract interest by potential patrons to reside at the hotel. The marina development could act as such an attraction."

In the 2009 version this was modified to: "The hotel will be successful and sustainable if it forms part of a much larger complex which will attract interest by potential patrons to reside at the hotel. The marina development could act as such an attraction."

The NGOs said they, therefore, failed to understand how the developers could now eliminate the marina and claim that the complex would remain financially viable, as required by the Environment Impact Assessment.

"This eleventh-hour submission of new plans shows that the developers are intent on pushing through this venture in complete disregard of the social and environmental impacts of the project, ignoring the fact that the local community and also general public opinion has expressed itself against the project.

"The environmental NGOs therefore urge MEPA to refuse such a project and to revert the land to its original designation as a nature park.

"The Qala Local Council has already looked into the various aspects of creating an environment and heritage park, a project that would draw much-needed tourists to Gozo, and support existing hotels and catering establishments."

A petition on the project can be found at:

Saturday, 8 October 2011

8th Oct 2011: Wied is-Sewda Walk Part 1

Walk from Marsa up to Rabat, through the Wied is-Sewda valley system.

Walk distance: about 16 km

Walk duration: 4 1/2 hours

Walk leader: Simon

Some photos below:

The confluence of the Wied id-Sewda and Wied il-Kbir valley systems

Minerva enlightens me.