The Planning Authority has refused to act over a Xemxija boatyard with no permit that poses a danger to passersby and residents in Xemxija.
Residents, including owners of boathouses in the area, have complained to the authorities, including Transport Malta, the Lands Authority, and the Planning Authority that a large portion of the public Xemxija promenade, close to a jetty, has been turned into an illegal boatyard.
Owners of large boats are storing their vessels on public land during the winter season instead of garaging them or placing them in a licensed boatyard as required by law.
The boatyard is also being used for maintenance and repairs, creating issues with noise, fumes from paint and chemicals, and rubbish.
“This illegal activity has been going on for years, with boats parked illegally, and it’s getting bigger and bigger. On many days, passers-by cannot even walk in the area as the boats’ owners block the road so that they can work on their maintenance,” a frustrated resident told The Shift.
“We have reported the issue numerous times, including to the local council and the authorities. However, nothing has ever been done, and the area has been turned into a free-for-all,” another resident told The Shift.
When contacted, the Planning Authority, responsible for the permits required for such an area, admitted that there was no permit issued that would allow for the site to be turned into a boatyard.
However, according to the same authority, nothing can be done as “the activity has been going on for a very long time”.
“The land in question abuts two slipways, and it has been in use for marine-related activities, including the placing of boats on land, since at least 1994 and before the requirement for obtaining development permission for a use change,” the Planning Authority said.
“Since the activity is not a change in use in terms of the law (Development Planning Act 2016), and the land has been in marine-related uses before 1994, no further action can be taken by the Planning Authority,” a spokesman told The Shift.
A lawyer contacted by The Shift described the PA’s reasoning as “strange”, saying: “Since when has the abuse of public land depended on how long it has been abused?”