Archaeologists concerned at buffer zones development

Archaeological Society says recommendations by Heritage Advisory Committee remain unheeded.

An entrance to an underground cave blocked by concrete in 2008
An entrance to an underground cave blocked by concrete in 2008

The Archaeological Society is seriously concerned with the development occurring within buffer zones around archaeological sites, particularly around the Brochtorff Stone Circle which forms part of the Ggantija complex in Xaghra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Urging the planning authorities to respect the buffer zones around archeological features, the Society argued that recommendations by the Heritage Advisory Committee to change the local plans to be in line with the scheduling of the protected heritage in the area “remain largely unheeded.”

The HAC is calling on MEPA to prohibit any development in the buffer zone to the Xaghra Stone Circle and to change the local plan to ensure that no development is ever allowed in this zone.

In November, two terraced houses were proposed for development in the buffer zone of the Xaghra Stone Circle. The development, which initially envisioned 10 new dwelling, swimming pools and underlying garages, had been downscaled because the original plans intruded directly on the visual link between the Nuffara and the Xaghra stone circle.

The Brochtorff Circle is a Temple period underground burial site, “one of the largest prehistoric cemeteries yet investigated in the Mediterranean,” and occurs in an area rich with archaeological sites such as Ġgantija, the North Cave and L-Għar ta’ Għejżu.  

Apart from these sites, the area remains largely unexplored.

“Nonetheless, changes in the surrounding area threaten the site and its potential for likely future archaeological discoveries. Buildings have appeared and some areas have been covered by concrete or damaged,” the Archaeological Society said.