Ain’t it bizarre? ERA says Fgura farmhouse can’t go to Bidnija

The Environment and Resources Authority has shot down plans by the owner of a farmhouse in Fgura, who wants his house to move brick by brick to the pristine Bidnija countryside

The Environment and Resources Authority has shot down plans by the owner of a farmhouse in Fgura, who wants his house to move brick by brick to the pristine Bidnija countryside.

The bizarre planning application is to dismantle the 130 sq.m farm building from Wied Blandun in Fgura, and relocate it to Bidnija.

Owner Shaun Bonavia, who has previously requested zoning permits to extend A.M. Valperga street in Fgura for new developments, claims he wants the farm building relocated because of the development of a new road – proposed by the same landowners.

The Fgura site is in close proximity to an urban area, while the Bidnija area is at the edge of a prominent ridge (Ġebel Għawżara), consisting of open land characterised by rocky steppe and maquis habitats, and surrounded by agricultural fields – part of it is an Area of Ecological Importance.

But the ERA is insisting that the proposal is not a legitimate ‘like-with-like’ replacement of the existing building. “There is no valid justification for the extravagant relocation from a peri-urban area just off the Fgura development zone, to a completely different edge-of-ridge site at Bidnija.”

ERA has called for more reasonable alternatives, like marginally shifting the building within the same site at Fgura, or the redesign of the proposed road formation at Fgura.

But apart from that, the ERA said a building on the undeveloped site at Bidnija was of significant environmental concern, as this would result in the uptake of rural land to accommodate urban development.

Nature Trust also expressed its perplexity on how an application affecting two different sites can even be presented, noting that the application was so bizarre that it should not have been even published. “Transferring or building any structure at Bidnija would mean building in ODZ, which is illegal… Moreover, if the rural structure has any heritage value then this should remain within the Fgura area and not transferred to a completely different rural context.”

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