WATCH: Manoel Island Project Critics Make One Final Push: 'Planning Authority Is Ignoring Gżira Residents'
Planning Authority will decide the fate of Manoel Island today
With the proposed Manoel Island project currently being discussed at the Planning Authority, critics have launched one final push in an attempt to stop the project in its track.
PN MEP candidate Michael Briguglio warned the Planning Board that they will be ignoring residents of Gżira and surrounding localities if they approve the masterplan.
“As a Sliema councillor and as a resident who walks along the promenade daily, I know what other residents are saying,” he said. “Residents all oppose this project, as do local fishermen.”
On TVAM this morning, Gżira resident Jamie Mercieca, from the newly-launched Inħobbu l-Gżira pressure group, warned that MIDI’s proposed project will ruin the popular promenade and create a headache for several drivers who park on the island everyday.
Jamie Mercies (left) and Tony Cauchi (right)
He said that around 8,000 people have so far signed a parliamentary petition which urges the government to scrap its contract with MIDI and convert Manoel Island into a heritage park.
Meanwhile, Tony Cauchi from Għaqda Sajjieda Dilettanti Gżira reiterated his concerns that around 100 moorings will be lost as a result of land reclamation.
And PN Gżira councillor Jeremy Cardona demanded to know what will happen to the ducks in ‘Ducks Village’, a quirky home for ducks and other animals which has been earmarked for development.
“Everyone is talking about the buildings but there's another village here,” he said. “I remember coming here as a young boy when the village was set up. What will happen to these ducks? Where will they go?”
Gżira councillor Jeremy Cardona outside Ducks Village today
In an interview with Lovin Malta yesterday, Gżira mayor Conrad Borg Manche said that he would personally like to see Manoel Island turned into a park but that critics of the project are spreading false hope.
“It’s important to note that MIDI has a right to build and it’s false to state that the government can rescind the contract,” he said. “When I was interviewed in 2016, I said that I would like to turn Manoel Island into a park. Of course I would. I live there, I used to go there everyday as a kid and I know what value it has to the people of Gżira and all Malta. That was my opinion but obviously this is not about my opinion or anyone’s opinion and one has to see the facts.”
This proposed project goes back to the 1990s when MIDI was given a concession for the development of both Manoel Island and Tigne Point. A permit for the development of Manoel Island was issued in 1999 and this impending development is enshrined in the Maltese local plans. MIDI has so far focused on the development of Tigne but has now turned its eyes to Manoel Island, with the concession stipulating that it must complete the entire project by 2023.
Failure to do so will see MIDI receive daily fines for three years, after which the government will be obliged to scrap the entire contract, including the Tigne half.
Cover photo: Left: The proposed Manoel Island project, Right: The Planning Authority meeting this morning