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‘We Have A Right To Unpolluted Sea’: Balluta Residents Speak Out On Proposed Pontoon In Bay

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Residents of Balluta are once again speaking out against the proposed development of the installation of Fortina’s catamaran jetty, ahead of the representations period deadline.

After activists and residents protested for an entire week last June to stop the installation of the jetty, the applicant, Fortina CEO JeanBert Gatt, filed a second application.

The resubmitted application was described as “a correction of previous plans to reflect smaller pontoon and shifting for environmental considerations”. 

However, the resubmitted plans feature the take up of a total of 130 square metres of area, as opposed to the 81 square metres in the previous application.

Lovin Malta spoke with three residents of the area, which will be directly impacted if the proposed permit were to be approved. 

Site photo from PA

Site photo from PA

“I have been a resident of St Julian’s since childhood and I have been swimming in St Julian’s all my life.  Now even my children enjoy swimming here,” Cyril Spiteri Staines told Lovin Malta.

“If a ferry shall start to enter the bay several times a day, it shall affect it negatively and irreversibly.  It shall cause sea pollution and shall become a danger to swimmers, snorkelers, paddle boarders, canoe users, and persons carrying out other aquatic sports,” he said.

The plans are posing a massive threat towards users of the area, and are going against the designation of the area, as well as current local plans and SPED.

“The Maltese shorefront is of public domain and everybody should be allowed to enjoy an ‘unpolluted’ sea without any danger from high-powered polluting vessels,” Spiteri Staines said. 

“In this case, the proposed location of a ferry landing site in St Julian’s is not in the best public interest.”

The resident also suggested making use of the Portomaso marina close by, proposing that it would offer a better site for this function.

“We all swim there, and many people also practice sports there,” a 68-year-old resident told Lovin Malta. 

The resident also stressed that an entire bay did not need to be ruined in the name of development, reminding applicants that a catamaran is meant to go from port to port, and not port to a bay.

She also made reference to the increase of mental health problems that Malta has been seeing, as more countryside and sea shores are being taken away.

“We need to fight it, not as Balluta only, but as Malta on a whole. We need to preserve our island,” she said. 

One other resident, Albert Storace, also warned of the loss of cultural heritage and all the issues that such a development will inevitably bring with it.

“The few local people that enjoy swimming will be badly affected, with an increase in pollution, a change in currents, and unprecedented harm on the ecological system of the area,” the 77-year-old told Lovin Malta.

He also made reference to the Posidonia beds which can be found in the area, which are supposed to be protected by law.

“I see no reason why pollution should keep getting worse than it already is,” Storace said. 

He emphasised that not only do we have to deal with the ongoing destruction of our heritage, but also nothing is being done about it.

“It’s already shameful enough that a building is allowed to deteriorate to that extent, open to rack and ruin. Now, instead of preserving it, we just want to knock it down,” he said.

Another resident also fears that if it goes through, the water would be too contaminated by pollution to swim in it. 

“This will stop me from swimming in the bay which I do on a daily basis,” she said, also highlighting that it is a common way of how residents of the area relax after a day of work.

She also warned of an increase in people frequenting the area, which will lead to more traffic and more waste generated.

As of today, more than 500 objections have been filed against the development, with the representation period ending tomorrow 11th November.

Representations can be filed by following guidelines highlighted by Moviment Graffitti above.

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When Sasha (formerly known as Sasha Tas-Sigar) is not busy writing about environmental injustice, she's probably fighting for women's rights. Follow her at @saaxhaa on Instagram, and send her anything related to the environment, art, and women's rights at [email protected]

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