Hal-Ghaxaq set to get picnic area

Original adventure park dropped after objections from fireworks factories and ERA, as project is now limited to picnic area with stone-cookers located away from olive grove

A proposal by the Għaxaq local council for the creation of a camping and picnic area which originally included a playing area and an adventure park in Taż-Żebbuġ, has been trimmed down to just a picnic area.

The site consists of a large olive grove forming part of the valley system leading down towards Birżebbugia, which will not be impacted by the latest plans.

The original proposal included a camping site that was however shot down by numerous objections from fireworks clubs in the locality. The Environment and Resources Authority had objected to the excessive formalisation proposed in the original plans. A decision will be taken following a public hearing on 2 March. A case officer has recommended approval.

Objections were based on the presumed distance between the new facilities and the St Mary fireworks factory, but the case officer said the distance of 183 from the factory made the picnic area legally permissable. The factory, located in this area in 1984 specifically for its isolation, raised concerns that camping in the area would result in increased activity in the environs.

The picnic area will see a restoration of existing natural passageways and the cleaning of pathways from any rubbish, the restoration of damaged rubble walls and the construction of new rubble walls delineating the site boundary.

Other works include the cleaning of the existing watercourse, which is currently hindered by excessive growth of unwanted vegetation, to ease water flow along the valley, and replace existing corroded metal gates with timber ones.

Amenities such as toilets and a tools’ room, constructed in rubble stone in the shape of  ‘giren’ (traditional hunting huts) will blend with the natural surroundings. A traditional Maltese stone-cooker, a kenur, will also be made available for the general public for the cooking of food instead of the portable barbecues.

Originally, the Environment and Resources Authority had objected to the excessive formalisation from the adventure park and playground facilities and a parking area which were not acceptable from an environmental standpoint.  But after plans were revised and after the proposal was limited to the creation of picnic area the project was given ERA’s go-ahead.