Thousands have signed a petition to Parliament calling on the government to turn Manoel Island into a wooded park with heritage buildings and save the iconic views from Triq Ix-Xatt.
According to the petition, Midi’s Manoel Island mega-development threatens to lower the quality of life of thousands for the benefit of the few.
“This is a historic opportunity for our government to reverse the wrongs of the past and go down in history as champion of the people,” the petition by Jamie Matthew Mercieca says.
“Manoel Island is the last unbuilt area in the dense North Harbours conurbation – such a gem of architectural and natural heritage should rightly belong to all the people of Malta and Gozo.”
The Planning Authority board put off a decision on the Midi development on December 20, citing lack of information on building heights and other aspects of the project.
Historic opportunity for our government to reverse the wrongs of the past”
The plans – an extensive residential and commercial complex on Manoel Island, including a hotel and casino at the historic Lazaretto, apartment blocks, retail outlets, a yacht marina, streets and plazas – are recommended for approval, with a final decision expected in the coming weeks.
So far, nearly 2,500 people have put their name to the petition, which will close for signatures on April 16.
The “world-famous promenade views” across Marsamxett Harbour will also be obstructed. If these views, which are proudly featured on Air Malta planes are lost, the charm and draw of the promenade will be gone forever, they claim.
Meanwhile, the sea channel will be narrowed through land reclamation and the extension of a yacht yard, bringing industrial activity directly into a densely populated area, the petition notes. Additionally, the building of apartments will generate thousands more car trips and add to the existing air pollution in the locality.
The petition also calls for the upgrading of the popular slipway for use by fishermen and boat owners of limited means, which it says would give a new lease of life to the country’s fading maritime heritage.
It also calls on the authorities to push for the transformation of Manoel Island into a recreational zone for youths, families, hobbyists, the ageing population, tourists and the community at large.
Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar on Monday asked supporters to make donations to the cause: "If your health and Malta’s heritage is precious to you, we ask you to make a contribution to the Manoel Island Campaign. The studies, professional consultants’ fees and media costs needed to present a strong case at the Planning Authority cannot be borne by the small group of campaigners trying to save Manoel Island for you and the rest of Malta.
"Please make a contribution, no matter how small, by a secure link here, by mailing a cheque made out to ‘Nħobbu l-Gżira’, in an envelope marked ‘Manoel Island Campaign’ mailed to FAA, 23, St Anne Str, Floriana or through the Paypal donation link.
In their latest submissions to the PA, FAA had not objected to the development but insisted that the terms of the guardianship deed - drawn up by the Manoel Island Foundation - should be respected. The terms of the guardianship deed can be seen here.
The Manoel Island Foundation – chaired by Claire Bonello - had been set up by MIDI, the Gżira local council and NGOs to find the best compromise going forward.
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