Residents up in arms against Wied Incita development

Residents call on PA to stop quarrying illegalities before even considering development of warehouses and retail in Attard ODZ

The proposal for garages to be used by SMEs is also deemed objectionable due to the close proximity of the area to residential units
The proposal for garages to be used by SMEs is also deemed objectionable due to the close proximity of the area to residential units

A number of Attard residents have written to the Planning Authority requesting it to clamp down on quarrying illegalities before even considering plans presented by the Bilom group to develop warehouses and retail space, in the area presently occupied by its quarries.

Construction group Bilom is proposing the development of a huge industrial park for small and medium-sized enterprises, equipped with an overlying solar farm over 158,000 square metres on the site currently taken up by quarries in Wied Incita, Attard.

In representations submitted by Green Party deputy chairman Carmel Cacopardo, the residents said the site is subject to a number of enforcement orders issued over a number of years due to the illegal operations. “The application ignores this list of enforcement orders completely, as if nothing had ever happened. As if operations on the site were forever harmonious with the surroundings and in full respect of neighbours.”

They insisted that Bilom should first and foremost be requested to remove the irregularities on site, and submit a proposal for the full rehabilitation of the whole site, including the cessation of quarrying and all the related activities. “It is only subsequent to honouring the above that applicant should consider submitting a development of the site.”

The residents contend that the quarrying is too close to the residential area which includes dwelling approved by the Planning Authority and its predecessors  throughout the years. “Such approval by the Planning Authority implies at both law and policy that the surroundings should be compatible with the residential nature of the area.”

While insisting that the Bilom application should only be considered if these illegalities are addressed, the residents also lambasted the new plans, particularly the proposal for 7,400 sq.m of retail areas just outside the development zone.

The proposal for garages to be used by SMEs is also deemed objectionable due to the close proximity of the area to residential units.

The residents said no provision was made for the impacts of the traffic generated, including heavy traffic on the residential community in the area. And they described proposal for installation of solar panels as a sweetener intended to camouflage an otherwise unacceptable proposal.

Green Party councillor Ralph Cassar is among the signatories of the representation.  The Attard Local council has also registered itself as an objector.

Cassar said that the very fact that quarry operators want a new quarry and to fill the existing quarries with garages, warehouses and retail outlets, confirms that the current quarries have been exhausted. “What’s more the illegalities at Wied Incita quarry have been going on unchecked since at least the 1990s. The terms and conditions of a 1967 emphyteusis deed with the government, which owns the land, have been completely ignored.

“The intentions of the current operators of the quarries are clear – turning this area into a built up zone. It is also one thing installing PV panels, but using government solar energy schemes as an excuse to turn the area into a built up industrial zone so close to the residential area is totally unacceptable.”

The development also foresees the construction of a family recreational park and a retail outlet, all set on the 158,000 sq.m tract equivalent in area to 22 football fields, of land outside development zones in Wied Incita. The application also foresees the relocation of existing quarry entrance and administrative office to Zebbug side and extension to quarry.

Plans seen by MaltaToday envision the development of 235 garages occupying 55,000 square metres of land, a retail outlet to be built over 7,460 sq.m while the family recreation park would occupy only 2,550 sq.m. Land is also identified for recycling facilities.

Labour Whip Godfrey Farrugia has already spoken out against Bilom’s plans to turn their quarry into a new industrial park for small and medium enterprises. “Wied Incita has been raped by quarry owners, rendering its habitat lifeless... the irregularities are well known,” Farrugia, who is an MP for the constituency that includes neighbouring Zebbug, said.

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