The story has been updated to include the Planning Authority’s reaction.
As complaints increase about communities of caravans that obstruct the coastline across the island with no enforcement action taken, the Planning Authority has chosen to slap an enforcement notice on a temporary rescue tent used by the Red Cross Society in Mellieħa.
The Red Cross set up the rescue tent in June with the collaboration of various ministries to offer rescue services in the northern part of the island during the summer months. It is set up and funded by the Malta Tourism Authority, Transport Malta, the Mellieha Local Council, the Armed Forces of Malta and the police.
“Nobody knew what permit was needed for such a structure, but we thought this was sorted with the Planning Authority before,” Red Cross Director of Operations Robert Brincau’ told The Shift.
He explained that the rescue tent was set up to give public service. The temporary structure was set up to assist rescue boats as part of service commissioned by the MTA. This summer alone, the Red Cross staff carried around 300 rescues from the area known as l-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa.
The enforcement action issued on 16 July on the Red Cross licensed mobile clinic jarred with the lack of action taken on public complaints about caravans that are occupying the coastline of a large part of Malta, including Mistra, Ta’ Fra Ben and Armier, White Rocks and extending to the south of the island.
“If they tell us to leave, we’ll leave. I would not be happy about it, but we don’t want to break the law,” Brincau’ told The Shift.
Asked whether he deems this move by the planning watchdog unjust, Brincau’ said that it probably boils down to a misunderstanding.
The site in question is of ecological importance and considered of high landscape value.
But as photos of the area taken in recent days show, the area is still littered with a number of large vehicles which drive on the arid rock to park and set a tent as close as possible to the sea.
The non-profit humanitarian organisation planned to be located in the area until September, the organisation confirmed.
This PA enforcement notice comes at a time when the Authority faces mounting criticism on the lack of enforcement over its lack of action on illegalities on the island as well as permits granted that seem to favour developers over the public interest.
The Red Cross is appealing the decision by the PA.
The Planning Authority reacts
The PA said that prior to issuing the enforcement notice, it had approached the Red Cross informing the organisation that the structures required permission. Red Cross had informed the Authority that consent for these structures to be set up had been obtained. Yet, despite several reminders, these were never passed onto the Authority, the PA said.
The Authority also pointed out that it had given the organisation a month to submit a DNO (development notification order) to obtain permission.
“No application was ever submitted and the so the Directorate had no option other than to issue the enforcement notice,” the PA said.