Tista’ taqra bil-Malti
Chloe Portelli, the daughter of Gozitan developer Joseph Portelli, has been given Planning Authority permission to construct a second agricultural room on her 18-tumoli estate in an idyllic rural area in Nadur Gozo.
Portelli’s daughter, nicknamed ‘Chloe the Farmer’ after she surprisingly registered herself as a farmer despite being the general manager of her father’s chain of hotels in Gozo. She was also granted Planning Authority approval of an underground water reservoir and pump room, built illegally last year. The ‘sanctioning’ of all the illegalities will cost the Portellis just €1,500 in fines.
The PA’s latest green light to the Portellis, who have a history of contempt for planning laws, arrived just three days after a private dinner hosted by the contractor for Prime Minister Robert Abela at a Gozitan restaurant.
The dinner coincided with Labour’s latest fundraiser for the electoral campaign, in which it raised a record €215,000 in donations from Gozo. Portelli’s guests at the dinner with the PM included several Gozitan contractors and businessmen who have become close to Labour since 2013.
Though he admitted to attending the private dinner, Abela denied that Portelli’s pending planning permits were discussed and has claimed that he didn’t receive any donations from the businessmen.
Known as Ġebel l-Aħmar, the stretch of agricultural land on the slope beneath Nadur’s Ta’ Kenuna Tower was acquired by Portelli some years ago, after which he transferred the title to his two children. While construction waste was being dumped illegally on the land, workers started building long stretches of new, high rubble walls, enclosing the land.
Chloe Portelli then applied, successfully, to be registered as a farmer by the Agriculture Department, although she still occupies the position of general manager of her father’s hotels. The PA issued an enforcement order on the illegal rubble walls only after the work was completed.
This was soon overturned, however, when the illegally built walls were approved via a sanctioning process, and subject only to a small fine, despite the objections of the Environment and Resources Authority and several NGOs.
In 2021, Portelli applied for a permit to build an agricultural store in an area with uninterrupted views of the Gozo channel. Again, despite objections and an ERA warning that this was the start of a piecemeal development of the ODZ land, the PA went ahead and issued the permit.
However, the ‘store’ that the Portellis built turned out to be different to the approved plans, and, in addition, the contractor also built, illegally, a large water reservoir and a pump room.
Once again, an enforcement order was issued, after the works were ready, and the developer was asked to amend the building of the first store and bring it in line with the original, approved plans.
The remainder of the illegalities were sanctioned on 8 March, just a few days after Portelli had dinner with Abela on 5 March.
In a rare interview with The Times of Malta last year, Portelli admitted that he meets politicians regularly “to speed up things”.