Planning Authority defies ERA on Kalanka owner’s relocation of Nissen hut

Relocation of Nissen hut to Kalanka hotel area was ‘unacceptable’ according to the Environment and Resources Authority

The Planning Authority has approved the relocation of a massive 230-square metre Nissen hut to the pristine Kalanka area in Delimara, which was deemed unacceptable by the Environment and Resources Authority, the PA's planning directorate and the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage.

The development, which covers a footprint of 1,000 sq.m area, also includes a chicken coop for the Maltese black chicken and an apiary.

The PA's planning commission, chaired by Elizabeth Ellul, approved the development after noting the agricultural nature of the development in an area committed for such development.

The proposal was made by Kenneth Abela, who in 2018 was granted a permit to reconstruct the nearby Kalanka hotel. Abela’s plans in the area include the reintroduction of the Maltese goat to its natural environs.

But the application was also recommended for refusal by the case officer assessing the application, who concluded that it would have an adverse impact on an Area of High Landscape Value which has been included in the tentative list for inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Environment and Resources Authority was also opposing Kenneth Abela’s plan to relocate the Nissen hut from the Handaq Junior Lyceum, to house a goat farm.

The ERA questioned the logic of relocating the structure from a “low-sensitivity area” in Qormi to “a highly sensitive environment” in Delimara. “ERA is of the opinion that such a relocation should not take place, and this structure should be located within a similarly low-sensitivity area.”

Originally, the reconstruction of the Handaq school in 2010 had foreseen the relocation of the Nissen huts to a rabbit farm in Marsaskala and the Malta International Airport. The hut is currently stored.

The Delimara hotel includes a farm for some 100 goats and a pen to house some 200 Maltese black chicken, to span over a 1,000 sq.m footprint, including outside areas, on a total 19,000 sq.m site. The area is designated as an Area of Ecological Importance, and lies adjacent to typical coastal garigue habitats.

The ERA was concerned with piecemeal development of the site, noting that the derelict hotel adjacent to Abela’s proposed goat farm will result in “a significant alteration to the sensitive site environment.”

“Various proposals on these, practically contiguous, sites risk the piecemeal establishment of a large-scale ODZ development commitment,” the ERA said.

The proposed farm will produce organic milk, cheeselets, and eggs, and will include ancillary structures such as a manure clamp and cesspit.

The Planning Authority has already sanctioned various rural structures previously used by bird trappers, a brand new agricultural store, and greenhouses over 735sq.m – but against the advice of the ERA’s warning of the Delimara hotel’s “piecemeal approach”. The permit specified that 41 trees would be grown to minimise the visual impact of this development.

Abela has always insisted his project would transform a no-go area previously frequented by hunters and trappers, into a useful and innovative project. “They had houses built upon this land area including swimming pools, massive bird apiaries, big ponds to attract wading birds and a lot of bird hides and traps along the coast… The rural character and land features, like rubble walls and proper agricultural were covered with inert material and other waste to create flatland to cater for their bird trapping sites,” Abela said in his project statement.

After regaining possession of this land in 2015 he embarked on developing a “farm estate” by reintroducing soil, removing the bird hides and restoring rubble walls. His aim now is to grow food without the use of “chemicals, herbicides, pesticides or growth hormones”.

He also obtained all the necessary permits from the Veterinary Regulation Directorate to import the goats form Italy where the Maltese breed had survived after its disappearance from the island after the discovery of Brucellosis in goats’ milk.

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