Illumination of the Auberge de Castille
Tuesday, 10th November 2015
Here is the full text of today’s PR re heritage which has not been carried in full: Flimkien għal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) strongly condemns the irreversible damage caused by the project to illuminate the Auberge de Castille. The Auberge is supposedly protected by Structure Plan Grade 1 scheduling: “These buildings are of outstanding architectural or historical interest that shall be preserved in their entirety. Demolition or alterations which impair the setting or change the external or internal appearance…will not be allowed.”
This law was blatantly ignored by the very persons responsible for protecting our nation’s heritage who hurriedly approved this highly sensitive project in 24 hours, instead of scrutinising it properly to Superintendent of Culture, ensure correct practice. In so doing the authorities have violated the Heritage Act which stipulates that the State in Malta has “The duty to protect, the duty to conserve, maintain, restore and to intervene whenever deemed fit, including in circumstances of misuse, lack of conservation or application of wrong conservation methods”.
The Heritage Act also establishes that “It shall be the function of the Superintendent to promote and ensure the best policies, standards and practices in the conservation and presentation of artefacts, museums, buildings, monuments and sites;… Before determining an application … the Superintendent may require such information including the results of such tests, examinations or inspection … as he may consider necessary. Any person who wilfully, or through negligence, unskillfulness or non-observance of regulations causes damage to or destroys any cultural property … shall be guilty of an offence against this Act and shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine (multa)…not exceeding €116,468.67, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six years, or to both such fine and imprisonment.”
In recent years such cases have shamefully multiplied – in September 2103 MEPA granted a permit to build a house within the boundary of the Ta’ Ħagrat Temples, a World Heritage Site. Thankfully, following FAA pressure, that permit is now inoperable. MEPA had also approved a massive development on the Zbibu lane archaeological site, just 50 metres from an archaeological buffer zone. In October 2014 MEPA granted a permit for the building of a telecommunications tower on the Victoria Lines, a protected Grade 1 monument set in an Area of High Landscape Value. More recently, FAA’s enquiries about the structure being built at Haywharf were dismissed on the grounds of it being a national security project. The carbuncle that sprung up there could have been built in a presently unused and less conspicuous part of the Grand Harbour, instead of ruining Floriana’s bastions vista, a prime tourist area designated for a quality yachting project.
In all of these projects Malta’s laws have been blatantly violated by MEPA, the responsibility of Parliamentary Secretary Dr Michael Falzon, who operates out of the Office of the Prime Minister. Shockingly, none of these developments were opposed by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, which is responsible for ensuring that restoration works are carried out correctly. Will these two, as the competent authorities, fine themselves? The silence of the Superintendence and the dormant Committee of Guarantee is outrageous in the face of the rape of our heritage.
The Heritage Act emphasises the need to “promote public awareness of the richness and extent of cultural heritage as an intrinsic part of humankind’s environment, and of the need to prevent the debasement of cultural heritage assets” Who will watch the watchman if the watchman has betrayed the cause?
Invasive works at Castille facade have led to a public outcry • Photo by Ray Attard
Comments on facebook:
FAA on Castille wires fiasco: authorities violated Heritage Act Heritage and environment NGO Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar strongly condemned the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage for allowing invasive works on Auberge de…
Joe Buttigieg, Angela Delia, Deborah Ratcliffe and 20 others like this.
Stephen J Avalyan Newton Concise and clear statement Astrid.
Astrid Vella While the lighting on the facade of Castile was not a deliberate act of damage to our National Heritage, it still should have been averted with proper consultation and reflection. From a purely ascetic point of view the façade is meant to be viewed as…See More
Henry Abela – Henry Abela Just got back from Madrid, and after seeing all those buildings lit p at night I cant help feeling so sick and disgusted.
Karl Zammit what bloody amateurs frown emoticon
Colin Hamer Organise a couldn’t brewery piss in up a!
Gert Dowling I have come to the conclution, that is Malta, people have no respect for the law. What a shame.
Alfred E. Baldacchino MEPA has now become the laughing stock of the country. It either approves all obscentities, or blames another entity, or does nothing about it. When one remembers that MEPA is paid out of public funds to protect the environment, indeed one can better understand the meaning of a pro business vision.
Joe Buttigieg pajjiz tal mickey mouse literally – there is something wrong in the administration of this country – action must be taken!
Elizabeth Micallef I made a comment on Malta in a previous post; no need to add another. Enough people are reflecting my feelings.
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Alfred E. Baldacchino