“Stop hogging our seas” Balluta Bay objectors tell Fortina ferry group |  Moviment Graffitti Malta.
02/07/2020

“Stop hogging our seas” Balluta Bay objectors tell Fortina ferry group

The 87-strong individuals, Local Council and NGOs who are appealing the Planning Authority's decision to allow the Fortina Group to operate a catamaran from Balluta Bay, denounce the group's Monday press release as more greenwash.

"The entire bay from Balluta Bay right past the St. Julian's waterpolo pitch is an official bathing zone where members of the public may swim, kayak, dive and engage in different watersports. The much smaller roped-off swimming zones within the official bathing zone are there to exclude jet skis and other vessels. It does not mean that all swimmers have to be confined to those small areas. We are not tuna fish to be restricted to pens," the objectors said.

The developer is trying to pass this off as some temporary, minimally-disruptive development but the truth is that the word "temporary" is not mentioned once in the approved application. The tourist-ferry service was announced by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat at an event in October 2019 well before the permits were ever issued, showing another done deal even though the public objected in droves.

The developer group's record speaks for itself. It is the same group which has littered the Sliema Ferries with cheap and unsightly ticket booths. It is the same group which was granted a public seafront site for touristic purposes - which was then converted to a residential speculative project. Members of the same group had a business relationship with the Lands Authority CEO.

“We see what you represent and we will pursue further legal action to stop you hogging our seas" the objectors said.

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“Tibqgħux tikkapparraw il-bajjiet tagħna”, dawk li qed joġġezzjonaw kontra l-proġett tal-Balluta jgħidu lill-Fortina ferry group

Is-87 individwu, il-Kunsill Lokali u l-għaqdiet li qed jappellaw id-deċiżjoni tal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar li tagħti permess lill-Fortina Group biex jopera katamaran mill-Bajja tal-Balluta, ikkritikaw l-istqarrija stampa li ppubblikat il-kumpanija t-Tnejn li għadda bħala attentat biex il-Fortina Group jagħti l-impressjoni falza li jimpurtah mill-ambjent.

“Il-bajja kollha mill-Balluta sa wara l-pitch tal-waterpolo ta’ San Ġiljan hija uffiċjalment żona fejn il-membri tal-pubbliku jistgħu jgħumu, jużaw il-kajjikki, jgħoddsu u jipprattikaw diversi attivitajiet marbuta mal-isport tal-ilma. Is-swimming zones huma ħafna iżgħar u qegħdin imdawrin bil-ħbula biex ma jkunux jistgħu jidħlu jet skis u inġenji oħra tal-baħar. Iżda ma jfissirx li l-għawwiema kollha għandhom ikunu kostretti li jgħumu biss f’dawn il-konfini. Aħna m’aħniex tonn maqfulin ġo gaġġa”, qalu dawk li qed joġġezzjonaw.

L-iżviluppatur qed jipprova jgħaddi dan l-iżvilupp bħala xi ħaġa temporanja, li se ġġib magħha ftit li xejn tfixkil. Iżda fil-verità, il-kelma “temporanja” mhix imsemmija darba fl-applikazzjoni li ġiet approvata. Is-servizz tal-ferry għat-turisti kien ġie mħabbar mill-ex Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat waqt attività li kienet saret f’Ottubru tal-2019 qabel ma l-permessi kienu għadhom ħarġu, każ ieħor ta’ kif id-deċiżjonijiet ikunu diġà ttieħdu minn qabel, anke jekk kien hemm oġġezzjoni kbira mill-pubbliku.

Ir-rekord ta’ dan l-iżviluppatur huwa xhieda fih innifsu. Dan huwa l-istess grupp li mela l-inħawi tas-Sliema Ferries b’kabini koroh tal-biljetti; l-istess grupp li kien ingħata sit pubbliku qrib xatt il-baħar għal skopijiet turistiċi – li wara ġie żviluppat fi proġett residenzjali spekulattiv. Membri tal-istess grupp kellhom relazzjoni kummerċjali mas-CEO tal-Awtorità tal-Artijiet.

“Aħna nafu x’tirrappreżenta u se nibqgħu nieħdu azzjonijiet legali biex inwaqqfuk milli tkompli tikkapparra l-bajjiet tagħna”, qalu dawk li qed joġġezzjonaw għall-proġett.