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MT 18 September 2016

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maltatoday, SUNDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2016 News 3 activists from accessing foreshore lic order was maintained. In a charged speech, Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent spokesman Andre Callus warned that if public access to the foreshore was not restored by next week, the group would be forcing their way in, as they had done in the past. He did not take kindly to the consortium's claims that last week's incursion into the prop- erty had resulted in vandalism. "They have the cheek to say we vandalised the place... This is cal- umny and we are discussing op- tions with our lawyers," he said. MIDI CEO Luke Coppini said Friday that he was willing to dis- cuss foreshore access, but this token gesture did nothing to ease the anger at being denied access to public land. "We don't want charity from MIDI, we want what is ours by rights, Mr Coppini. One doesn't negotiate one's rights," Callus re- marked, to applause and shouts of "we want to swim tomorrow." MIDI has been accused by its opponents of having left the is- land to rot for 16 years, allowing rubbish to pile up in the area. The consortium, which has de- veloped Tigné Point into a resi- dential and retail commerce area, was granted a 99-year concession on Manoel Island, which it had to develop by 2023. Gzira mayor Conrad Borg Man- ché also addressed the gathering, saying the sight of the dereliction had almost moved him to tears. The emphyteutical concession imposed a condition to main- tain the area, which had not been honoured, he said. "This is not a joke, this is public property. If you do not honour the condi- tions [of the emphyteutical con- cession]...out!" His proposal to share security costs with the consortium in return for open access on week- ends, was met with a strongly- worded letter from the con- sortium's lawyers, accusing the council of criminal offences and incitement to criminal activity, he said. Borg Manché remained defi- ant, explaining that although the clean-up activity was not allowed to be carried out, "bullies are not going to intimidate us." "The foreshore is public land. Not even the government can give it away," said the mayor, who has become something of a local activist icon last week, af- ter he formed part of the KEA group that used bolt cutters on the chains securing the gate to the island. "The truth is that they [MIDI] don't care about the area. They only restored the fort to have their parties in it," he said to ac- claim from the crowd. Despite not being allowed to clean up the gated area, some activists, armed with black dust- bin bags, were seen to be gath- ering litter from the surround- ing area as the protest gradually dispersed. A local supermarket chain sent a car loaded with wa- ter and biscuits, which were dis- tributed to thirsty protesters. Earlier, Green party chairman Arnold Cassola reiterated the party's long standing appeal for a revision of development plans in Manoel Island, so that it can be transformed into a publicly acces- sible island. "We don't want a repetition of the Tigné disaster at Manoel Is- land. Government should make amends from the damage caused with the consent of both the PN and PL as a result of their mis- conceived politics of encouraging development at all costs. Manoel Island should be reclaimed back from MIDI and transformed into a recreational park." other applicant in the same area for the construction of two stables had already been twice refused in 2005 and 2006; the present application was refused in 2011. The area is designated by local plans as being of "agricultural val- ue" even it is in a degraded state due to vehicular access to the area. Applicant Cristinu Cassar owns five horses that take part in races at Marsa. He has argued that the countryside track is necessary for safety reasons, to keep horses away from village streets. He also said the degraded site would be environ- mentally improved since it will be used to grow fodder for horses. Originally in its refusal, the Plan- ning Authority said the develop- ment would not contribute to the environmental improvement in the area as required by a policy regulating the development of sta- bles in the countryside. But the EPRT insisted that the site has been in a degraded state since the late 1980s and that Cas- sar, who bought the land in 2001, was not to blame for previous il- legalities – it therefore concluded that the development would im- prove the degraded environment in the area. In this case the tribunal was com- posed by Saliba, lawyer Andy Ellul and architect Ludovico Micallef. historical Lija grove

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