An illegal concrete batching plant, mounted inside a quarry in Kerċem, was not given the Lands Authority’s go ahead, Times of Malta is informed.

The Planning Authority has already ruled that the batching plant is illegal, because its owners, construction magnate Joseph Portelli and Mark Agius, known as Ta’ Dirjanu, failed to apply for a development permit.

It has now transpired that the Land Authority, which owns the quarry, was not even informed on this latest development.

A spokesman for the public land administrator confirmed it is investigating the story revealed by Times of Malta as it was not aware of what was going on at the site.

“The Lands Authority did not give its consent for the mentioned activity. We are currently investigating the matter following the Planning Authority’s enforcement action,” the spokesman said following questions sent.

The Kerċem quarry, known as Ta’ Qasam San Pawl, was acquired from the government through a lease agreement many years ago by Gozitan brothers, Carmel and Michael Cauchi.

Various illegalities during the years, primary among them the expansion and exploitation for quarrying purposes of areas which were not included in the original lease, had led to various PA enforcement orders.

However, no direct action was ever taken and the quarry is still commercialising stonework coming out of illegal parts of the quarry. 

According to law, the Cauchis are prohibited from entering into any sub-lease agreement of public land to third parties without the permission of the Lands Authority.

They are not the owners of the latest illegal batching plant inside ‘their’ quarry, as this is being built by Mr Portelli and Mr Agius on land still registered in the names of the Cauchi brothers.

Works on the concrete batching plant started some three months ago. The large plant was imported from Sicily, transported on Gozo Channel vessels and mounted on-site.

Many in Gozo were aware of what was going on, but the Planning Authority said it only got wind of the illegalities following questions by Times of Malta.

Following verbal and written warnings to stop the assembly of the batching plant, the developers ignored the authority and carried on with the project.

This led to the issue of an official enforcement order. So far, the PA has not ordered the developers to dismantle the illegal structure. It did not seal off the plant either.

A PA spokesman said that prior to proceeding with further action, the authority still needs to take into account whether the contravener will comply with the requirements of the enforcement notice within the legal timeframe.