The Nationalist Party and Labour Party whips have declined to comment on the recent parliamentary petition calling for Manoel Island to be transformed into a heritage park.
PN Whip Robert Cutajar told this newsroom that “the subject is yet to be discussed”, while his counterpart Byron Camilleri did not reply to questions sent earlier this week.
This comes after PN MEP candidate Michael Briguglio announced that he had signed the petition, saying that he “puts people and the environment first and who is free from big business.”
The petition warns that MIDI’s proposed development on Manoel Island into a luxury real-estate village will threaten the quality of life of thousands for the benefit of the few, while also destroying views.
It is highly unlikely that this petition would be a success, given that the project has been bound by a concession to develop Manoel Island since 1994, with daily fines and a potential seizure only possible if it fails to develop past 2023.
In fact, even some of the project’s harshest critics Gżira mayor Conrad Borg Manche and Claire Bonello from the former Friends of Manoel Island NGO now sit on the board of a foundation to monitor the project, along with MIDI.
Asked how such an initiative could be realised, Inħobbu l-Gżira, the group behind the petition, said they are “asking for the government to take back Manoel Island either by challenging the agreement i.e. investigating MIDI’s lack of adherence to it over the past decades, or by reaching a financial agreement with MIDI and reacquiring the land”.
“Manoel Island is unique in that it is the only large open space remaining in the North Harbour Conurbation. There are certainly other places in Malta which can be considered eligible for transformation into a park, but this area of Malta desperately needs a breathing space with recreation and leisure facilities for people from all walks of society”
The group added that even if the proposal is not manageable, other issues still need to be remedied, namely over-development, the reconstruction of the Gżira promenade, the protection of views and the narrowing of the sea channel through land reclamation.
It should be noted the number of signatures collected on the parliamentary website do not reflect the entire total as handwritten signatures are also still being collected.
The petition can be found here.
Persons who would like to contribute to funds mail a cheque made out to Inħobbu l-Gżira, in an envelope marked ‘Manoel Island Campaign’ mailed to FAA, 23, St Anne Str, Floriana or through the Paypal donation link.