Qala mayor calls out PA for granting villas permit to build in ODZ valley area

Qala mayor Paul Buttigieg says piecemeal permits allowed developers to get pools despite 13 years of objections

The Tal Marga valley in Qala is prone to flooding
The Tal Marga valley in Qala is prone to flooding

Footage released on social media by Qala mayor Paul Buttigieg shows the flooding of an area in his village, which he says is threatened by the development of three villas with pools, due to their interference with groundwater storage.

The houses were approved for construction outside the development zones by the Planning Authority, despite objections by the Qala local council, farmers and environmental organisation since 2007.

The Malta Resources Authority itself had also objected to the permit, which originally was requested for the building of five villas, arguing that the development might affect water in this area.

In a 2008 report to the PA, hydrologist Marco Cremona had warned that the proposed development at Triq Il-Kuncizzjoni, Qala, in the Ta’ Marga valley would present an obstacle to the surface and subsurface flow in the valley and be adversely affected by the surface flow of water during storm eventsl He also had predicted that it would intercept the subsurface flow regime of the Il-Wileg, Tal-Harep and Ta’ Marga valley systems, negatively affecting the yield of the shallow wells lying immediately down-stream of the proposed development.

Qala mayor Paul Buttigieg complained that the development permit had been gradually issued in piecemeal fashion.

Buttigieg said the developments will lead to the loss of fields and create problems in water reservoirs used by farmers, especially in summer, by affecting groundwater storage.

The PA has insisted the site in question is within the Qala development zone, and that the original 2007 permit was issued following an appeals tribunal decision in July 2014. At the time the appeals tribunal considered the flood-risk reports and mitigation measures, which were eventually imposed in the development permit.

The PA remarked that the area is prone to flooding, being located within a valley, and that the MRA had accepted the mitigation measures proposed by applicant.

But the introduction of pools on adjacent land outside the development zone had been approved recently through PA 6023/20 – to which the Qala local council did not object, the PA said.