Updated at 4.53pm with mayor's comment.  

Plans for a ferry jetty at Balluta Bay go against local development and environment policies, the Planning Commission has said as it adjourned a final decision until next week. 

The jetty will enable a private operator to run a hop-on, hop-off ferry service from the popular bay in St Julian's.

The St Julian’s local council and 11 NGOs are objecting to the proposal, which has seen residents express fear that the jetty will ruin the popular swimming spot and turn it into “another Ferries” - a reference to the Sliema strand.

On Monday ferry operator Fortina Investments said this will be a temporary floating jetty at San Gilian waterpolo club and will have no impact on the swimming zone.

It issued a statement in reaction to harsh criticism of the plans.

A PA spokesman told Times of Malta that after considering the objections, the decision was deferred by a week.

It "noted that the proposal is counter to Local Plan policies... and is not in iine with the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development".

The spokesman said the Commission "took into consideration the objections... (and) requested that without prejudice reason for refusal will be drawn up."

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In its statement earlier on Monday, Fortina said that it will not have exclusive access to the proposed pontoon and the structure will bear no resemblance to the permanent berths on the  Sliema and Gżira strand.

The landing berth is similar to a bus stop at sea and loading and unloading will take place over a three-minute period, it added.

"The temporary landing berth is not located in the vicinity of the Balluta sandy beach and it will have absolutely no impact on bathers. Furthermore, numerous pleasure craft already anchor in the area being proposed," the company said. 

It noted that its vessels will be brand new eco-friendly boats compliant with the highest emission and environmental standards and that they form part of a €20 million investment to offer alternative means of transport by making use of the sea to reduce traffic congestion on roads.

The company said it had sought a meeting with the St Julian’s Council mayor to brief him on the facts but the two parts did not meet.

Mayor Albert Buttigieg told Times of Malta that he could not make it on the day that had been suggested by the ferry company, so he had asked them to reschedule the meeting. However, he never heard back from them.

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