Magnate Joseph Portelli proposing massive 125-apartment block near Sannat cliff edge
Moviment Graffitti is strongly objecting to the proposal for the construction of a block of 125 apartments just 300 metres from the cliff edge in Sannat, Gozo. The block, proposed by Gozitan construction magnate Joseph Portelli, lists known Portelli partners Mark Agius (Ta’ Dirjanu), Samuel Saliba and Joseph Vella as applicants for the blocks.
In a statement, the organisation highlighted how three separate applications (PA/02035/2, PA/02087/21 and PA/05048/20) have been filed in an attempt to avoid the scrutiny necessary for a single massive development. In fact, one of these permits on Triq ta’ Bebunaq and Triq it-Tempju tal-Imramma has already been issued by the PA, in what the group has described as a tried-and-tested tactic that allows developers to obtain permits with relative ease by avoiding the requirement for the conduction of an Environmental Impact Assessment.
“This devious strategy to bypass the necessary studies should be put to an end,” said a spokesperson for Moviment Graffitti. “Developers are making separate applications while hiding behind the names of family members and other associates. This shows how the system itself is fundamentally flawed, undermining any potential for sound planning and resulting in gross planning injustice.”
The development foresees the construction of swimming pools and decking on ODZ land, with the approval of these applications set to present the opportunity for further take-up of fresh land. This new invasion in ODZ land will not only come at the expense of a scenic clifftop, but also set the precedent for the take-up of more green spaces.
All three applications violate height restrictions and will engulf Sannat, ruining the serene village, increasing traffic and congestion, and affecting people’s enjoyment of sunlight in their homes.
“Moreover, the proposed site of development is in the close vicinity of an internationally recognised Important Bird Area, home to a significant breeding population of Scopoli’s Shearwaters (Ċief) in the Mediterranean. The light pollution produced by such a large development poses a direct threat to these seabirds, one which Malta is duty-bound to prevent.”
The site lies on good quality agricultural land, further aggravating the effect of the development. This will amount to a further decrease in agricultural areas – which are already under sustained pressure in Malta and Gozo – while increasing our dependency on imported food and jeopardising the livelihoods of the farmers who make a living off the land.
In addition, the site is located next to the Natura 2000 site, Xlendi – Wied tal-Kantra Area, which is designated as a Special Area of Conservation with International Importance. The area is also close to Sanap Cliffs, which form part of a Special Protected Area. These country areas are enjoyed by visitors and wildlife all year-round, and their beauty will be severely impacted.
“We oppose this development in its entirety, and call once again on the authorities to put an end to these underhanded games by developers,” said Moviment Graffitti.
“Moreover, we draw attention to the recent statements issued by the Gozitan mayors on the issue of overdevelopment in Gozo, since developments of this volume are the main cause of worry for thousands of Gozitan residents who stand to lose most. The filing of separate applications is doubly tragic, since it will rob residents of their quality of life through a highly dishonest practice which the authorities are aware of, but not willing to stop,” the group said.