The idyllic beauty of places, such as Little Armier and Ta’ Fra Ben, are being harmed as caravans occupy the area, taking up space, preventing access to beaches and blocking views of the sea.
At least a dozen caravans are currently parked in the area known as Ta’ Fra Ben in Qawra. The Shift recently visited the area after receiving complaints from the public saying that vehicles, which park their caravans only metres from the sea, also block both access and views of the sea.
Ta’ Fra Ben is one of the most popular swimming spots in the north of Malta, attracting thousands of visitors every summer. On the right side of the bay, the view is cluttered, with what from afar looks like a shanty town with caravans, one parked next to the other.
Most of these caravans seem parked for the long haul. Some caravan owners even laid out carpets of fake turf and extended an awning for shade. Evidently, the caravan owners feel comfortable setting up a front lawn, with some even using decking as an extension to their parked caravans.
A similar situation was seen at Little Armier. Armier, in itself, is already rife with illegalities, which are subject to decade-long controversies over ‘boathouses’ turned into seasonal or permanent residences, and the caravans parked here only add salt to the wound.
As at Ta’ Fra Ben, caravans at Little Armier seem to have been parked there on a permanent basis. A number of caravans even appear resting on cement slabs, clearly with no intention of moving.
Ta’ Fra Ben
One of the localities, which is perhaps worst struck by the invasion of caravans, is Mistra Bay. The Shift has reported restaurant owner Claude Camilleri’s intention to take the matters to court. He has been fighting to restore access at Mistra Bay for years, contacting Transport Malta, the police and the Planning Authority, with little success.
But all is not lost. The authorities did manage to clamp down on similar illegal caravans in other areas on the island.
The area known as Munxar in Marsascala had earlier been packed with caravans. Following enforcement notices by the police in March, caravan owners had to vacate the area. The Shift visited the site and it appears that no more than two caravans now occupy the area.
A caravan owner who spoke with The Shift said the authorities had asked caravan owners to move. “They picked on us, and most had to leave. They warned us that we cannot extend a canopy or lay anything on the ground otherwise, we’d be made to move, too,” said a caravan owner.
She pointed out that caravans, which normally occupied this area, were made to retreat to a field close by. Now, most caravans are secluded in this small area, and while still parked close to St Thomas Bay, they do not obstruct views or limit access to the swimming area.
Zonqor Point, another area popular with caravan owners, seems to have been left relatively undisturbed. No parked caravans could be seen, except for a couple of camper vans, which appeared to be parked there for the day.
In March, the government had promised to follow up on the parking of caravans in St Thomas Bay in Marsascala. Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri had said he would monitor the situation.
Apparently it was the district police who issued notices to the caravan owners in Marsascala. Questions to the police regarding other areas, such as Mistra, have not yet been answered despite repeated calls.
The Planning Authority told The Shift that it could take no action in places such as Mistra because the caravans were parked on the road. However, the spokesperson said the Authority did issue enforcement notices when caravans were parked on the foreshore, but there are no pending enforcement notices to be issued to the caravans in Mistra.