A group of environment NGOs complained Wednesday that a bigger part of the seashore in Balluta Bay may be taken up by the operators of a ferry than originally planned.
The NGOs said that after having been granted permission by the Planning Authority to operate a tourist catamaran in Balluta Bay, Captain Morgan (owned by Fortina group) has now applied to 'occupy nearly the whole seashore' on the left of the bay, 'effectively denying the public’s enjoyment of the sea from this part'.
The groups said the application was disguised as a “minor amendments procedure” to the approved application.
They said the operators are seeking permission to cordon off nearly the whole sea-level platform in Balluta Bay by setting up a continuous railing. This would thus have exclusive use of this platform for its catamaran operations, with the public being denied accessibility to one of the last strips along the bay and, consequently, to the sea adjacent to it.
The organisations pointed out that the foreshore is historically public domain and that, therefore, it cannot be taken over by private speculative projects.
"The minor amendments procedure that Fortina is trying to use for its development allows the applicant to avoid the normal planning process and hence deprive the public of its right to object. Since Fortina’s proposal extends beyond the site covered in their original application, it is clearly not eligible to be processed under this procedure," the groups insisted.
They said that the Planning Authority's approval of the catamaran facilities in Balluta Bay was a shameful decision that is currently being appealed by several organisations and the St. Julian’s Local Council.
The statement was signed by Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar,
Friends of the Earth Malta, Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta, Ramblers Association Malta, Rota, The Archaeology Society Malta as well as St Julian's Council.
In a statement later on Tuesday, the company denied the claims.