Massive brand new concrete and tarmac batching plants have been installed by Polidano Brothers, known as Caqnu, in Hal-Farrug in the limits of Luqa, without permits, The Shift can reveal.
The new plants were inadvertently revealed through a post on social media platform TikTok by those working on the set up of the new plants, showing stages of construction to fast paced music.
Answering questions from The Shift, the Planning Authority insisted permits were not necessary.
“The new concrete batching plant has replaced the older plant and equipment already covered by a building permit issued in 1988 and another development permission issued in 2006,” a spokesman for the Planning Authority said.
Research conducted by The Shift shows that neither Polidano Brothers, nor any of his associated companies had submitted a development application to the Planning Authority for the new plants, despite visible infrastructural changes to the sub-structures of the plant at Polidano’s HQ, in order to cater for the necessities of the new plant.
Confirming that there are two new industrial plants, the other one for asphalt, the Planning Authority spokesman added that “though not yet operational, the new asphalt plant is intended to replace the existing asphalt/bitumen plant, which are also covered by development permits issued in 1996 and 2006”.
According to the Planning Authority, given that the land use is legal, “no planning permission is necessary for the erection and/or replacement of plant and machinery required for the operation of a use already covered by development permission”.
The Planning Authority’s stance when dealing with Caqnu and similar developers jars with what citizens face at the Authority when dealing with minor structural changes in their own homes.
Architects said the case shows how the Planning Authority is being run by contractors. “How can it be that the installation of a batching plant needs no permit?” one senior architect told The Shift.
“Did the Planning Authority check whether the new plant its exactly the same size, occupies the same amount of land, is of the same height, takes the same fuel or energy load and emits the same gases?” he asked. “How can the Planning Authority even know these things a permit is not required?”
The Shift is informed that the same argument has recently been used by the Planning Authority to allow Bonnici Brothers, another company regularly on the government’s direct orders list, to install a new €2.1 million plant at Ta’ Zuta quarry in the limits of Dingli.
Even in this case, the Planning Authority said no planning permit was required even though large concrete structures were erected to hold the new plant.
The new Bonnici Brothers’ investment was even partly financed by taxpayers through Malta Enterprise and inaugurated by Prime Minister Robert Abela who industry insiders said is known to have a close relationship with the shareholders of Bonnici Group.