The owners of the Fortina Hotel have already completed their massive new lido in Tigné by extending it onto public land before they even received the green light required from Parliament to allow them to do so.
Lands Minister Silvio Schembri has now tabled a new parliamentary resolution to green-light the occupation of the public land by imposing a one-time €70,000 fine as compensation.
The government is also amending the resolution, which is still before a parliamentary committee, so the hotel’s owners, the Zammit Tabona family, will be able to reduce their total investment by €1 million – from the original €5 million – and to justify the granting of the 65-year temporary emphyteusis on concession.
They will now also be permitted to move the concession of a large area of sea, which has also been proposed to be given to the hotel for the development of a marina, despite objections from residents and beach-goers.
The government last February presented a resolution to Parliament for just over 500 square metres of sea area – the size of two football grounds – in Tigné to the Fortina to enlarge the hotel’s lido and to build a temporary yacht marina.
The controversial resolution was blocked by the Opposition at parliamentary committee stage. It insisted that the area, popular with the locality’s beach-goers, should not be turned into a yacht marina as it would reduce the bathing area and damage the environment.
While neither the public land nor the sea area concessions have so far been approved by Parliament, the hotel’s owners nevertheless went ahead with the development in defiance of both the law and Parliament and completed the lido’s expansion onto public land. The marina has not yet been developed.
Instead of taking action against the blatant abuse, the government is now changing the resolution to accommodate the illegalities.
Through a new resolution to be presented to the National Audit Office Accounts Committee, Schembri is expected to present new legislative text that still gives the Fortina the public land and sea area requested while introducing a small fine for the illegal development on public land.
The resolution states that since work on the lido’s expansion was already completed before the concession was given, the company is to pay €70,229.30 in compensation for the site’s illegal occupation since June 2020.
It is yet not known why the fine was not included in the first resolution Schembri tabled last February since the hotel had been illegally squatting on the public land since 2020.
The completed lido’s expansion on public land is already operational.
The new amendments will also allow the Fortina to move the originally designated sea area sideways from in front of the lido, leaving guests with unobstructed views while rendering the situation even worse for beach-goers.
The resolution will require the parliamentary committee’s unanimous approval or a simple majority vote in plenary if it is not approved at the committee stage.