The St. Julian’s Local Council and 11 NGOs are urging the Planning Commission to unequivocally reject the application for a private jetty in Balluta Bay that would serve a hop-on hop-off tourist service run by the Fortina owners. The application will be decided during a sitting at the Planning Authority on Monday 3rd February at 9:30am and the public is encouraged to attend in order to make its concerns heard. Residents of the area have already expressed their total opposition to this project in a public activity last November.
The St. Julian’s Local Council has also written to the Lands Authority categorically objecting to any concession by the Lands Authority of the seabed and/or the sea. It stated that the sea and the foreshore are designated as public domain according to the Civil Code and are consequently subject to the obligations of having them preserved both in substance and form.
Should this application be accepted by the Planning Commission, Balluta Bay would be transformed into a berthing place for Fortina’s private ferry. This private activity would dominate and pollute this small and important bay as well as pose a constant danger to bathers and swimmers. Balluta Bay would thus suffer the same fate as the Ferries in Sliema, where this same company took over the largest part of the shore for its private ferries.
This project also raises serious concerns about its environmental impact on the seabed and on water quality, especially because the application is being submitted in a piecemeal fashion. While this hop-on hop-off service will eventually include a route along the coast and different berthing spots, the application that will be discussed on Monday concerns only one berthing spot at Balluta Bay. Thus, it is impossible to assess the project’s impacts holistically. We also ask whether a wave motion analysis has been carried out to assess how this new jetty will impact currents and sea conditions around the bay.
The construction of a private jetty in Balluta Bay goes contrary to the Local Plan for the area which does not identify that site for berthing facilities. It is bizarre that the case officer is recommending the application for approval on the basis that it encourages “…transport by ferry boat as an alternative mode of transport…” This ferry is, most obviously, not an alternative means of transport since it is neither a public form of transportation nor will it shift any commuting from the land to the sea. It is simply a private ferry that provides an additional service to tourists, from which only Fortina will profit.
It is outrageous that, after having already commercialised every inch of land in that area, suffocating residents and visitors alike, speculators now want to fully commercialise also its sea and its coast. It would be totally unacceptable to have another commercial activity in Balluta that denies the public’s enjoyment of this popular bathing spot and damages the natural environment. This would constitute the complete takeover of private interests over public ones.
Local Council: St. Julian’s
NGOs: Archaeological Society of Malta, Attard Residents Environment Network (AREN), Bicycle Advocacy Group, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Futur Ambjent Wieħed, Isles of the Left, Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta and Ramblers’ Malta