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MALTATODAY 17 April 2022

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 17 APRIL 2022 3 NEWS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 The Veċċja sea cave is recog- nised as a natural geomorpho- logical feature, and is protected as an Area of Ecological Impor- tance. In its first reaction to the project, while stating that any such project would require fur- ther screening and possibly an Environment Impact Assess- ment, ERA also concluded that any further studies "will not re- solve the wider environmental concerns in relation to irrevers- ible damage to the natural coast and its features". In view of these concerns ERA has formally objected to the pro- posal. Concern for safety in the area grew in 2016 when a nine-year- old girl was hospitalised after falling rocks hit her while bath- ing in the area. But the plans come in the wake of an onslaught of construction activity in the area, which includ- ed a permit issued in 2019 for the development of 24 dwelling units and two offices with underlying garages constructed on seven levels above the street level and three levels below. Reports relat- ed to this development, whose garages encroach on a protected green area, made no reference to the impact of excavations on the caves. Plans have also been present- ed for a nine-storey hotel on an existing terrace overlooking the bay. Recently the Superin- tendence for Cultural Heritage dropped objections to the pro- posed hotel citing a geotechni- cal report commissioned by the developer which concluded that the caves do not extend below the site of the proposed develop- ment. The report has not been published yet on the PA's public information system. Moreover, ERA reacted to the report by ask- ing for "certification from a ge- otechnical engineer confirming that the proposed works would not result in damage to the exist- ing caves." Residents react to seawall A resident objecting to the pro- posed seawall has called on the Public Works Department to consider other options to prevent the collapse of Triq Stella Maris such as the expropriation of the property overlying Ghar il-Vec- cja. "Whilst I understand that this project is being proposed to prevent the collapse of the above-mentioned street, I also believe that it is in the public's interest that the cliff face and the underlying bay and cave are pro- tected and preserved as it forms part of natural and national iden- tity," the resident said. Another resident did not object to the project but expressed con- cern that the plans do not take in to account that the area is a popular swimming zone used by many families as well as pension- ers with the only access to the sea being proposed consisting of a stairway which might be of use only to boat owners. The resident called for a revision of plans to in- clude a flat area for swimmers. Veccja sea-cave threat

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