Press Release : 22 July 2017

Press Release:

Nature Trust – FEE Malta seriously concerned about further sprawl in ODZ and suggest immediate remedial strategy: what is taken must be replaced elsewhere

Nature Trust – FEE Malta is seriously alarmed at the way ODZ sprawl is officially being rubberstamped by the Planning Authority through various legal loopholes and calls on the Minister for the Environment together with the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Planning Authority to take active and immediate remedial legal compensatory steps in this regard.  Nature Trust (Malta) is also appealing to the Commissioner for Environment and Planning within the Ombudsman Office to air his concerns about this ongoing unsustainable onslaught.

Over the past few decades, land from ODZ has been systematically wiped off to be built for large projects as well as smaller urban sprawl in ODZ when abandoned farmhouses are being converted into plush residences often including a pool. This gangrenous invasion of development in ODZ must be stemmed immediately.

In the context of the limited land area of our islands and the fact that a third is already developed (far exceeding the EU average land cover of less than 10%) Nature Trust proposes that land elsewhere which has been committed but still found in ODZ or virgin land within schemes must be reinstated and designated as ODZ.

Examples of such areas include committed areas in Wied Ghomor (disused quarry and pig farm), the land next to the Ghar Gerduf archaeological remains in Kercem and the virgin land over which the new Chiswick School (PA 5424/17 – submission deadline 28th August) is being proposed in Pembroke. Wied Ghomor is a scheduled valley and the only green lung between two towns suffering intensive development and traffic congestion. The Pembroke site is public virgin land and is a buffer zone for the adjacent Natura 2000 site. This site alone covers close to 16,000 square metres. The garigue in this buffer zone should be protected at all costs as this would threaten the Nature 2000 status of the Pembroke garigue.

Just Thursday’s vote in favour alone saw the combined loss of a total of nearly 8000 square meters to a fuel station and an old people’s home in an ODZ. All this for a mere €100,000 euro planning gain. Such development is permanently denying our children and the generations to come the right to enjoy open land more so when such greenlighting is often a precedent for further ODZ take up, consequential road infrastructure and noise, air and light pollution.

Nature Trust appeals to the public to send their representation against another ODZ application for another old people’s home less than 150 meters away from the approved old people’s home in Naxxar (l/o Gharghur) which covers another 2000 square metres. (PA 5041/17 – deadline for submissions of objections 28th July).

Nature Trust reiterates that an exercise in calculating the land being taken up in ODZ per annum is prepared and this would be compensated through annual revision of land within schemes including those introduced in the 2006 rationalization scheme, by removing them from such schemes, together with the reinstatement to natural status of committed land in ODZ after proper expropriation where necessary.