Nature Trust voices concern “about further sprawl in ODZ”

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Nature Trust voices concern "about further sprawl in ODZ"Nature Trust – FEE Malta has said in a statement today that it is “greatly concerned about further sprawl in ODZ” and has suggested “immediate remedial strategy – what is taken must be replaced elsewhere.”

It added that “the way ODZ sprawl is officially being rubber stamped by the Planning Authority through various legal loopholes,” causes it “serious alarm,” and has called 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.”

NTM added that it is also appealing to the Commissioner for Environment and Planning within the Ombudsman Office to “air his concerns about this ongoing unsustainable onslaught.”

“Land from ODZ has been systematically wiped off over the past few decades, 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,” the NGO said.

“This gangrenous invasion of development in ODZ must be stemmed immediately,” stated NTM.

Nature Trust said that it is proposing that that land elsewhere, which has been committed but still found in ODZ or virgin land within schemes, must be reinstated and designated as ODZ. It added that “this is being suggested 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%).”

The NGO said that the examples of such areas include the land next to the Ghar Gerduf archaeological remains in Kercem, committed areas in Wied Ghomor (disused quarry and pig farm), 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,” NTM said.

“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.”

Nature Trust stated that “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 green lighting is often a precedent for further ODZ take up, consequential road infrastructure and noise, air and light pollution,” remarked NTM.

Nature Trust appealed 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 concluded it statement by reiterating 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 rationalisation scheme, by removing them from such schemes, together with the reinstatement to natural status of committed land in ODZ after proper expropriation where necessary.”

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