MaltaToday previous editions

MT 22 January 2020 Midweek

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 1 of 23

2 maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 22 JANUARY 2020 NEWS JAMES DEBONO THE Planning Commission will today be deciding on whether to approve plans to replace two containers near the dilapidated Riviera Martinique Hotel used as a store for a beach restaurant overlooking the beach. Originally the application was one to regularise the contain- ers as they stand, but plans were changed after the case officer rec- ommended refusal. But in the last sitting the Planning Commis-sion chaired by Elizabeth Ellul hinted that it could issue the permit if fresh drawings with an "improved design" were presented. It also called on the applicant to pres- ent evidence that the beach bar formed part of the hotel. The new plans indicate the re- moval of the existing containers, which shall be replaced by one consolidated stone structure. The structure will house a gen- erator, as well as provide storage facilities for food and beverag- es, in relation to the restaurant. While the containers occupied an area of 40 sq.m the new structure will occupy an area of 50sq.m. A small strip of landscaping has now been included along part of the perimeter of the site facing the cliff edge, while the bounda- ry wall is proposed to be recon- structed in areas where it has been lost. Both the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage (SCH) and the Environment and Resources Authority had insisted that the illegalities next to the derelict Riviera hotel are removed and not regularised, as requested by the owners. In 2004, the PA had issued an outline permit for the demolition of the existing structure to build a three-storey building, incor- porating a restaurant and mul- ti-purpose hall. But a full permit was never issued. A court case instituted by the government 11 years ago against the hotel owners, requesting their eviction from public land immediately beneath the derelict hotel, has been dragging on for the past decade. During the court case owner Kevin Fenech reiterated plans for a luxury 40-room hotel, in court in a case instituted in 2008 by the Lands Department, but revealed that prior to 2013 Planning Au- thority officials had "made it clear they were not ready to consider a hotel because they wanted to re- duce human activity in the area." But after 2013, Fenech con- tracted architects AP to pres- ent new plans for a luxury hotel aimed at tourists not being ca- tered for by other providers. The hotel was to be located on the part of the land in Ghajn Tuff- ieha which includes both public land as well as land solely owned by Fenech. So Fenech started negotia- tions with the government to exchange that part of the land, a Natura 2000 site, with "dis- turbed" public land which he promised to embellish through landscaping. But according to Fenech negotiations with the Lands Department had to stop after a new Lands Authority was appointed. "We than started talking with Carlo Mifsud. As soon as we were getting some- where Mifsud was replaced by Deborah Schembri. We spoke to her, and started moving on… but then things changed again and James Piscopo was appointed [as CEO]," he said. Fenech expressed frustration, saying he had found closed doors "sometimes because of an ant, a bird or because of light pollu- tion… because of everything." Ghajn Tuffieha: Illegal containers may be replaced with 50sq.m stone structure CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Turmoil erupted when the sus- pected mastermind in the Caruana Galizia murder, Yorgen Fenech, was arrested in November. The situation snowballed into a po- litical crisis after the prime minister's former chief of staff, Keith Schem- bri, was implicated in the murder by Fenech and middleman Melvin Theuma, who was granted a presi- dential pardon. The revelations led to Joseph Mus- cat resigning from prime minister and people taking to the streets in protest. The Democracy Index is released annually and covers 165 independ- ent countries and two territories. The EIU index is based on five cat- egories: electoral process and plural- ism; the functioning of government; political participation; political cul- ture; and civil liberties. The index provides a snapshot of the current state of democracy worldwide. This year's edition of the Democra- cy Index shows that global democra- cy is in retreat, with the worst average score since the index began in 2006. Democratic backsliding and a surge in protest movements across the world are noted as the main contrib- uting factors towards the fall in the average score. The decline in the average global score was driven by sharp regres- sions in Latin America and Sub-Sa- haran Africa. The average score for Asia and Australasia, eastern Europe, North America and western Europe stag- nated in 2019. According to the EIU's measure of democracy, almost half (48.4%) of the world's population live in a de- mocracy of some sort, although on- ly 5.7% reside in a 'full democracy', down from 8.9% in 2015 as a result of the US being demoted from a 'full democracy' to a 'flawed democracy' in 2016. More than one-third of the world's population live under authoritarian rule, with a large share being in China. In 2019, some 68 countries expe- rienced a decline in their total score compared with 2018, but almost as many (65) recorded an improve- ment. The other 34 stagnated, with their scores remaining unchanged compared with 2018. Political crisis surrounding Daphne Caruana Galizia murder led to Malta's lower rating Joseph Muscat resigned from prime minister in December

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of MaltaToday previous editions - MT 22 January 2020 Midweek