PA insists minister responsible for publishing public domain consultation results

The public’s formal reaction to the thinly disguised ‘sham’ exercise aimed at renewing the AX Group’s Qawra lidos is still being kept under lock and key by Lands Minister Silvio Schembri


The Planning Authority has not yet published the results of a short public consultation exercise carried out over the last festive season on the controversial removal of valuable public land in Sliema and Qawra from protected public domain status.

Asked by The Shift for a copy of the public consultation results, the authority is passing the buck to Lands Minister Silvio Schembri. According to a PA spokesperson, the consultation has been completed but its publication falls under the remit of the lands minister.

Although the PA had led the consultation process, the spokesman insisted that any questions should be answered by “the Minister responsible for Lands.”

The consultation exercise, which had been labelled a “sham” by some NGOs, closed on 5 January but the conclusions are still to be made public over two months later.

In the meantime, the Planning Authority is not even in a position to give the number of submissions it received on the release of valuable seafront properties from the protection of public domain law.

The government announced out of the blue last December its intention to declassify some 13,000 square metres of the Qawra coastline currently occupied by Anglu Xuereb’s AX Group Sunny Coast and Suncrest lidos.

The Shift has revealed the scope behind the move is to give the veteran contractor assurance that he will get another 65-year lease on the public land before investing millions in the lidos’ refurbishment. The lidos had been built on public land in the 1980s through a permit issued by then-Public Works Minister Lorry Sant.

While the land has been in Xuereb’s possession for some four decades, the public domain law enacted a few years ago prohibits the government from giving the AX Group a new concession.

To circumvent the legal obstacle, the PA was called in to hold a ‘public consultation’ on changing the law to remove the public land Xuereb’s lidos sit upon from the public domain law.

A proposal for a similar declassification of Sliema’s Chalet area had also been included in the consultation, The Shift is informed, to disguise the proposal’s real intention to clear the way for Xuereb to have the lease renewed and to set about redeveloping the lidos.

Various environment NGOs –  including Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar and Friends of the Earth – had denounced the “sham consultation” and insisted there was no justification behind it.

According to the NGOs the declassification exercise “would set an ugly precedent for the declassification of all public domain sites”.

According to law, the first 15 metres of coastline are always considered to be public domain but the law is never enforced.

Since taking over the lands portfolio, Minister Schembri has been involved in many a controversy involving the disposal of valuable public land.

The latest are those connected to the concession of a large area of sea being awarded to the owners of the Fortina Hotel for a temporary yacht marina, and the sale of a green lung in Mellieha to be turned into flats by contractors known to be close to the Minister.


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16 days ago

isthi jekk taf silvio. possib li ma ssibx wiehed mill-muvument korrott li mhux korrott. kull min imiss mas-suppost partit tal-haddiema jispicca jiddakkar bil-gideb, serq ta flus u art tal-poplu. L-aqwa li l-haddiem jixtruh bi ftit euro qabel l-elezzjoni. ISTHU.

16 days ago

and besides that, you should check how many industrial accidents and sea dumping during the qawra site, but of course the government close your eyes, and lastly now sacked almost all the workers who worked on this project despite their indefinite contract…

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