Over 2,400 petition MEPA against proposed construction in Wied Garnaw area
This morning Save Wied Garnaw Action Group and Sta Lucija Residents Action Committee formally submitted a petition to MEPA. The petition refers to a development proposal to build a five-storey complex for the elderly Outside the Development Zone in Wied Garnaw area, between Sta Lucija and Luqa. Over 2,400 persons signed the petition in a record two weeks’ time.
The petition urges MEPA to conclude the proposal’s screening period by informing the applicant that the proposed development is not permissible because it runs counter to various development planning policies: primarily because the site in question is outside the development zone (ODZ) and the proposed development is not essential to agricultural, scenic and ecological needs. The proposed development is also not permissible since the South Malta Local Plan classifies the site in question as an area of agricultural importance, a rural conservation area, a valley protection zone, an aquifer protection zone and part of a strategic open space gap.
The proposed development would also pose a severe threat to all the valley, as such a permit would be used as a precedent to press for other urban development in neighboring fields.
In 2006, an application (PA/08097/05) for the construction of 12 masionettes and underlying garages on the site in question was refused by MEPA.
The area in question is a green space between two towns in Malta’s densely-populated south. The action taken by MEPA now will determine whether this area will be lost to development or if it will remain open space as a legacy for future generations.
This case is also testing how effective MEPA, particularly the Environment Protection Directorate, is in upholding development restrictions in ODZ and other protected areas.
Malta’s open green spaces are at crisis point. The remaining few are being destroyed for activities which could easily be undertaken inside the development scheme. The Wied Garnaw petition represents a national momentum wherein the general public is calling on MEPA to uphold ODZ policies and to ensure effective protection of the scarce remaining countryside.
We are also calling on all Members of Parliament to speak out on the need for ODZ to remain ODZ. Maltese politicians can contribute greatly by reaching a cross-party consensus on the need for MEPA to refuse ODZ developments applications not permitted by ODZ policies.
We thank all those who have petitioned MEPA and particularly commend Luqa Local Council for taking a unanimous stand against the proposed ODZ development.
We pledge to continue working to save Wied Garnaw and Malta’s remaining ODZ areas.