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No plans yet to restore crumbling Fort Delimara

There is no plan for the immediate restoration of Fort Delimara, but talks are to be held between Heritage Malta and an NGO to explore the possibility of a cooperation agreement for a restoration programme, Education and Culture Minister Dolores Cristina said in Parliament.

The British-built fort was used as a pig farm between 1982 and 2005. Since then Heritage Malta has taken measures to secure the fort to stop vandalism, the minister said.

The Sunday Times reported in August that the fort is in danger of collapse.

Fisherman Ray Bugeja, secretary of the National Fishing Cooperative, had pointed out that the rock into which the fort was built, has been wearing away at a faster rate since the Freeport Terminal's breakwater was built in the 1980s. The breakwater altered the natural water path sending a "sea wall crashing beneath Fort Delimara".

"The most sensible way to tackle the problem is to build a wave-breaking system that would eliminate the threats," Mr Bugeja said.

Fort Delimara was built by the British between 1876 and 1888 and was one of a ring of forts and batteries protecting Marsaxlokk harbour.

Heritage Malta had proposed a public-private partnership to restore the fort but the project never took off because of lack of funds. According to the plans, the fort was to be turned into a tourist attraction.

Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna (FWA) director general Mario Farrugia criticised the government's lack of action to safeguard the fort that houses the world's last remaining four 38-ton guns mounted on dwarf carriages. "FWA had been lobbying the government to take over the fort for about 20 years. Then Heritage Malta took it over. As usual nothing happened. There is no sense of urgency in this country. No wonder our national heritage is disappearing so fast," he said.

Geologist Peter Gatt explained that the rock making up the Delimara peninsula consists of chalk cliffs which are eroded rapidly by the sea, especially at their base. This has already led to the collapse of large slabs. Speaking about the cause of the erosion he said that it was likely that the construction of the power station, some 400 metres away from the fort, had an impact.

"The coast at the power station has been covered with concrete so waves accelerate along the coast, resulting in greater erosion under the fort," he said.

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