Activists on Saturday accused the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage of failing to do its job and becoming an extension of the Planning Authority. 

Speaking during a press conference at Ta' Xbiex, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar activist Astrid Vella said that the Superintendence has become inconsistent. While in the past it had been "strict but fair", there seems to have been a shift in the past year, she said. 

"People who care about heritage at SCH have been sidelined. We now have people from PA working at SCH and that is why we are seeing submissions in terms of planning permissions and not safeguarding our heritage," Vella claimed. 

Listing a series of projects that have made headlines recently - namely a block of flats near Ġgantija temples, the Cospicua library project, a project on Sliema's main street above 18th century houses, the Manoel Island project and more - Vella said the Superintendence's position on these has left many "speechless". 

Pointing to the latest issue raised by FAA - Transport Malta's application to build restaurant and offices on Ta' Xbiex seafront - Vella said the authority should not be given such land, especially since the entity already has available office space in the vicinty. 

The area is part of the Gżira Gardens green lung and part of the Valletta Fortifications Area of High Landscape Value, she said. If built, TM's structure would block views of Valletta and could put the capital's World Heritage Site status at risk. 

According to the activist, UNESCO representatives are already monitoring the situation around the Grand Harbour out of fear there could be issues with the capital's status. 

"We are in touch with UNESCO ourselves. This is all very worrying and it seems like things are only getting worse.

"The last thing we want is to lose the World Heritage Site status…other places in the world have had their status revoked, is Valletta going to be next?" Vella asked.

NGOs Rota and Moviment Graffiti backed FAA's position.

The Superintendence is led by Kurt Farrugia, who assumed the post in late 2020, replacing Joseph Magro Conti. 

Questionable SCH decisions flagged as concerning by activists date back to 2018, although most related to 2021 onwards.  

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