Transport Minister Ian Borg who was responsible for the Planning Authority until only a few weeks ago, will soon be able to take a dip in his ODZ pool as work has now been completed despite an appeal lodged against the permit.
The Shift can reveal that works on Borg’s pool have been ongoing since last summer even though there is a pending appeal before the Environment and Planning Tribunal (EPRT) claiming that the permit issued to the minister was irregular.
In reply to questions, Minister Borg confirmed the work done saying he was given the go-ahead from the EPRT to proceed.
He said that so far, he has already forked out some €17,000 to Muscat Pool Construction, the company doing works on the field turned into the back garden for the minister’s home in the rural hamlet of Santa Katerina, in the limits of Rabat.
Minister Borg insisted he had done nothing wrong.
Following the appeal filed last August against the permit given to the minister, The Shift had observed scaffolding and machinery his field, indicating the commencement of works. At the time, Ian Borg had denied any work was taking place.
The minister has already stirred controversy over the building permit for his house in Santa Katerina, which the Ombudsman ruled was issued abusively.
Last December, in separate court proceedings, it was established that the minister had bought the land at below market value, for a paltry sum of €10,000, from an elderly man who had suffered mental problems. The court ruled that the version of events he provided under oath were “hard to believe“. The owner’s family have strongly contested Ian Borg’s grasp of the land while their relative was ill.
The court had found Minister Borg’s testimony to be “lacking credibility” when he declared that he did not know that the field’s seller had mental health issues.
A minister determined to get a pool denied
Ian Borg had been insisting on building a pool and entertainment facilities on his field for many years even though the planning policy and local plan related to the hamlet where his home is located does not allow the building of pools on rural land.
In 2018, Minister Borg applied to build his pool on his field.
Despite policies not allowing such developments, the Planning Authority issued the permit which was later confirmed under appeal by the EPRT.
The objector challenged the issue before the Court of Appeal, which dismissed the permit.
Refusing to accept the court’s decision, the minister made a fresh attempt through a new application in which he made minor modifications to the parameters of his development. Again, the Planning Authority rushed to give the green light, which is now being contested again.
Yet the minister went ahead. His pool is done, making a mockery of the country’s planning regulations. During the whole process, his lawyer was Ian Stafrace, the former CEO of the Planning Authority.