MEPA proposes use of 'disused quarries' for shooting ranges

Following proposal for shooting range in a derilict site which was used as a quarry some 20 years ago, MEPA proposes use of 'disused quarries' in draft policy

The proposed site in Siggiewi has not been used as a quarry in the past 20 years and parts of the site have been reclaimed by vegetation
The proposed site in Siggiewi has not been used as a quarry in the past 20 years and parts of the site have been reclaimed by vegetation

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) today launched a proposed policy guidance document for shooting ranges which suggests the use of disused quarries and existing military installations.

This comes after MaltaToday reported that an extensive shooting range covering a site area of over 10,000 square metres outside development boundaries is being proposed in what is being described as a “disused quarry” in Siggiewi.

But aerial photos indicate that the site has not been used as a quarry in the past 20 years and parts of the site have been reclaimed by vegetation. 

The policy which will be up for public consultation proposes the use of disused quarries or sites in their near proximity not identified for other purposes in approved development plans and derelict land excluding land subject to recent degradation.

It adds that such sites cannot be on the side of a valley or a valley watercourse, on or near a ridge or where the development would break an undisturbed skyline or significantly intrude a particular panoramic view.”

Other recommended sites for outdoor shooting ranges include existing shooting ranges in possession of a valid development planning permit or a Malta Police licence if the range was in operation before 1992.

Plans for an international standard range at the derelict military installation in  Busbesija, Mosta, have been recently dismissed by government after the Russian group behind the project failed the due diligence process conducted prior to the project’s approval.

The Russian investors U-Group hit out at the news that its plan has been dismissed on account of its finances, arguing that it is “surprised at the statements,” and that it was “never informed of the issues.”

The authority said the draft policy follows “significant increase in the popularity of the both clay pigeon and target shooting.”

It added that the demand for shooting range facilities with international recognised standards will establish clear planning parameters through which planning applications can be assessed and regulated.

The proposed framework establishes two policies; one for outdoor and another for indoor shooting ranges.

The policies contain a range of criteria against which proposals for shooting ranges should be assessed. These criteria are grouped into two categories, one being locational requirements and constraints, including environmental characteristics of the site, which set out broad guidelines on preferred locations and scale of the facilities and the second being the general design requirements such as massing, layout, access, infrastructure and landscaping.

When it comes to Indoor Target Shooting Ranges, the proposed policy document favours facilities within primary or secondary town centres, as part of an existing or designated sports centre or as part of the national range complex.

In September, MEPA approved approval of  an indoor 119 square metre airpistol shooting range in the Clock Tower block in Tigne Point.

In such cases, the applicant is requested to submit an assessment of the noise impacts generated by the proposed development. This assessment must include provisions to ensure that the proposed development adopts identified mitigation measures.

The proposed policy document together with the public submissions received by the Authority during the initial two week public consultation may be downloaded from the MEPA website www.mepa.org.mt/public-consultation.

The authority invites interested stakeholders and the public to forward any submissions related to this new proposed policy document to the Director of Planning, MEPA, Shooting Ranges Policy, St. Francis Ravelin, Floriana or through email address: [email protected] Submissions must be received by the Authority not later than Friday 22 January 2016.

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