MARSASKALA RESIDENTS AND MOVIMENT GRAFFITTI TAKE WATERPOLO PITCH RULING TO COURT

Marsaskala residents and Moviment Graffitti take waterpolo pitch ruling to Court |  Moviment Graffitti Malta.

09/07/2021 

MARSASKALA RESIDENTS AND MOVIMENT GRAFFITTI TAKE WATERPOLO PITCH RULING TO COURT

Several Marsaskala residents together with Moviment Graffitti have taken to Court the Planning Tribunal’s (EPRT) ruling giving the go-ahead for the construction of a waterpolo pitch, a clubhouse and a restaurant in Marsaskala. The development would involve extensive excavation of the seabed and dredging, limiting the public’s access and enjoyment of the coast and creating multiple inconveniences through the commercialisation of a residential area.


In their court case, the appellants are arguing that the Tribunal failed to fairly consider their arguments against the Board’s decision approving this development. For instance, the Local Plan clearly outlines the types of development allowed in that area, and waterpolo pitches are not one of them. The applicants have tried to justify their development as “maritime based”, when in reality, the waterpolo pitch will contain freshwater, not saltwater. A pool using freshwater does not have to be built in the sea. The building of a huge structure in Marsaskala Bay is also in breach of SPED provisions concerning aesthetics and the public’s accessibility to the shoreline.


Residents and Moviment Graffitti have also argued that the harm done by this structure cannot in any way be justified by its benefits, especially in view of the fact that this waterpolo pitch will be used only during the summer months. Protected flora, including Posidonia beds, would be obliterated in order to reclaim the seabed, and a huge concrete slab in the small Marsaskala Bay would clearly be out of place (view here artistic impressions of the pitch when built). The project would also increase traffic and noise pollution in an already congested residential area.


Moreover, the appellants are stating that the Planning Tribunal breached their right to a fair hearing and the principle of natural justice when its Chairperson, Dr Joseph Borg, refused to recuse himself without any justification, despite him being an employee of the defendant – the Planning Authority.


Residents and other stakeholders had never been consulted about the development of this waterpolo pitch and they have been opposing it ever since plans came to light. During the Tribunal’s proceedings, it transpired that Government’s decision to build this pitch was the result of a secret agreement with a sports club facing eviction from its premises situated on the public land given to the Sadeen Group.


Marsaskala residents have recently raised the alarm about other secretive plans for Marsaskala Bay and its surroundings. They have called for the withdrawal of a so-called ‘design contest’ issued by the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), led by the disgraced Chairperson Mr Johann Buttigieg, since this is clearly a cover-up for shocking plans already drawn up by businessmen with specific commercial interests in Marsaskala square.


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Residenti ta’ Marsaskala u l-Moviment Graffitti jieħdu d-deċiżjoni dwar il-piċċ tal-waterpolo il-qorti


Diversi residenti ta’ Marsaskala flimkien mal-Moviment Graffitti ħadu l-qorti d-deċiżjoni tat-Tribunal tal-Ippjanar (EPRT) li tat il-barka biex jinbena piċċ tal-waterpolo, clubhouse u ristorant f’Marsaskala. L-iżvilupp se jkun jinvolvi skavar estensiv ta’ qiegħ il-baħar u dredging, u se jkun qed jillimita l-aċċess u t-tgawdija tal-kosta mill-pubbliku u joħloq ħafna inkonvenjent bil-kummerċjalizzazzjoni ta’ żona residenzjali.


Fil-każ tagħhom quddiem il-qorti, l-appellanti qed jgħidu li t-Tribunal ma kkunsidrax b’mod ġust l-argumenti tagħhom kontra d-deċiżjoni tal-Bord li approvat dan l-iżvilupp. Per eżempju l-Pjan Lokali jelenka t-tipi ta’ żvilupp li huwa permess fl-akkwati, u piċċ tal-waterpolo mhux wieħed minnhom. L-applikanti ppruvaw jiġġustifikaw l-iżvilupp fuq bażi marittima, meta fir-realtà, piċċ tal-waterpolo jimtela bl-ilma ħelu mhux bl-ilma baħar. Pixxina li tuża ilma ħelu m’għandhiex għalfejn tinbena fil-baħar. Il-bini ta’ struttura enormi fil-Bajja ta’ Marsaskala se tkun ukoll qed tikser ir-regoli tal-iSPED dwar l-estetika u l-aċċess tal-pubbliku għall-kosta.


Ir-residenti u l-Moviment Graffitti qalu wkoll li l-ħsara li se tkun qed tagħmel din l-istruttura ma tistax tkun ġustifikata fuq bażi tal-benefiċċji li se jkollha, speċjalment meta tqis li dan il-piċċ se jkun qed jintuża biss fix-xhur tas-sajf. Meded tal-Posidonja u tipi oħra ta’ flora protetti se jinqerdu għal kollox, u pjattaforma enormi tal-konkrit fil-bajja ċkejkna ta’ Marsaskala żgur li m’hemmx postha (ara hawn stampi ta’ kif inhuwa maħsub li se jiġi l-piċċ meta jinbena). Il-proġett se jkun ukoll qed iżid it-traffiku u t-tniġġiż mill-istorbju f’żona  diġa kkonġestjonata.


Barra minn hekk, l-appellanti qegħdin jgħidu li t-Tribunal tal-Ippjanar kisrilhom id-dritt ta’ smigħ ġust u l-prinċipju tal-ġustizzja naturali meta ċ-Chairperson tiegħu, Dr Joseph Borg, naqas milli jirrikuża ruħu mingħajr ebda spjegazzjoni, minkejja li huwa impjegat mal-parti l-oħra fil-każ, l-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar.


La r-residenti u lanqas persuni konċernati oħra ma qatt ġew ikkonsultati dwar il-bini ta’ dan il-piċċ, li dawn ilhom jopponu minn meta saru jafu bil-pjanijiet. Waqt il-proċeduri tat-Tribunal, sar magħruf li d-deċiżjoni tal-Gvern li jinbena dan il-piċċ kienet riżultat ta’ ftehim sigriet ma’ organizzazzjoni sportiva li kienet se tiġi mkeċċija mill-bini li kienet qiegħda tokkupa fuq art pubblika li ngħatat lis-Sadeen Group.


Ftit tal-ġimgħat ilu, ir-residenti ta’ Marsaskala kixfu pjanijiet sigrieta oħra għall-Bajja ta’ Marsaskala u l-madwar. Sejħu sabiex jitħassar l-hekk imsejjaħ ‘design contest’ maħruġ mill-Awtorità tat-Turiżmu (MTA), li hija mmexxija mill-iskreditat Chairperson, is-Sur Johann Buttigieg, minħabba li din hija bla dubju logħba biex jgħaddu pjanijiet xokkanti li ġa nħmew minn negozjanti u żviluppaturi b’interessi kummerċjali speċifikament fil-pjazza ta’ Marsaskala.