Over the past weeks the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) stepped up its efforts to curb illegal development across the Maltese Islands by carrying out a number of direct action operations in over 7 localities. The operations, carried out by the Enforcement Unit within MEPA included the demolition of an illegal extension to a guesthouse in Qala and the removal of over 180 truck-loads of illegally dumped material from Attard, Rabat and Luqa. The Authority also stopped the operation of an illegal yard in Ghaxaq, cleared derelict vehicles from a field in Qormi and removed an unsightly metal structure that was being used as store for an adjacent shop.
At Tal-Barrani Road, near Bir id-Deheb, limits of Ghaxaq, the Authority demolished a number of illegal walls and concrete flooring and stopped the operation of an illegal yard that was used to store heavy vehicles. During this operation, enforcement officers also removed scrap and dumping material from this site. In Fgura, MEPA removed an illegal and unsightly metal accretion within the front garden, to a shop.
In Qala, the Enforcement team stepped in to demolish an illegal extension that was constructed at the back of a guesthouse. Although a Stop and Enforcement Notice had been issued last February, the owner continued to carry out works without a permit. Midway through the operation, MEPA officials had to stop after the owner of the guest house sought a warrant of prohibitory injunction from the Gozo Court. Last Friday, in front of the Magistrates Court, the owner and his lawyer admitted to the court that works carried out were illegal and they were prepared to continue removing the existing illegalities themselves. MEPA will continue to monitor that this action will be carried out.
In another operation, which lasted four days, the Authority removed over 110 truck-loads of material that were illegally dumped on agricultural land along the Mriehel By-pass limits of Attard. In a similar operation in Tal-Virtu area, limits of Rabat, pristine agricultural land was returned back to its original state when over 35 truckloads of debris consisting of masonry and other inert material were removed from this area of high landscape value.
In another two sites, that were also outside the development boundaries (ODZs), one in Luqa and another in Qormi, the Authority cleared away dumping material and a derelict old bus and cars.
The Authority also removed over 20 illegal billboards from along various arterial and other main roads such as Tal-Barrani, Luqa, Marsa, Paola, Fgura, Mriehel By-Pass and Tal-Balal.
These actions come in the wake of the clear and strong message, MEPA Chairman Mr Austin Walker gave last week at the public hearing that met to decide the fate of 17 planning applications that sought to sanction illegal works in Outside Development Zones (ODZs) of Dwejra. The MEPA Chairman said that the line needed to be drawn with granting permits for illegal works that would have been carried out in ODZ areas. He also believed that the MEPA board’s decision to refuse the sanctioning of illegal boathouses was a clear sign to the public that the Authority was not ready any longer to tolerate the illegal abuse of land, especially in ODZ areas.