Planning Commission grants pontoon permit for St Julian’s ‘hop-on hop-off’ ferry service

The Planning Commission has granted a development permit for a semi-submersible concrete pontoon to be set up between the two waterpolo pitches along the St Julian’s seafront


The Planning Commission this week granted a development permit for a semi-submersible concrete pontoon to be set up between the two waterpolo pitches along the St Julian’s seafront.

The development permission is being granted subject to a number of conditions including the need for an operational permit from the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) and that the pontoon shall be made available to third parties only at the discretion of Transport Malta. A five-year environmental monitoring programme will also ensure that no damage is done to the marine environment.     

Following last month’s hearing, the commission noted that the applicant had provided sufficient justification for the project to be given the green light.

After the commission initially expressed its concerns based on the objections raised, the applicant rebutted the proposed reasons for refusal by providing further explanation behind the scope of the project.

The applicant clearly showed that the project is not a stand alone ‘business opportunity’ but part of a holistic plan which links land and sea transport. The St Julian’s ‘hop-on hop-off’ ferry landing place will be part of a maritime transport route system which covers several popular areas along the eastern coast of Malta.

The commission said that besides the fact that the new ‘hop-on hop-off’ ferry service will link up with the popular ‘hop-on hop-off’ bus route service, the new ferry service is an alternative transport solution which will reduce the congestion transport problem, especially at the Sliema ferries.

St Julians, like Sliema, is a popular tourist area and so a ferry landing service in this locality will significantly reduce the need for coaches to daily transport tourists to and from their hotel accommodation in St Julians to the Sliema ferries. The vessels which will be used for this ‘hop-on hop-off’ service are certified environmentally friendly with the most stringent emission standards and an on-board sewage treatment system.

Additionally, the siting of the pontoon will have no impact on public access to and from the shoreline. Commuters using the ferry service will access the promenade through the St Julians aquatic sports club. The ferry landing facility also caters for persons with a disability. The site earmarked for this development is well-outside the official swimming areas.

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