Over 2,400 petition MEPA against Wied Garnaw development

Save Wied Garnaw Action Group collecs 2,400 signatures in a record two weeks’ time.

Wied Garnaw threatened by development
Wied Garnaw threatened by development

2,400 signatures against the Wied Garnaw development have been collected in a record two weeks’ time. The signatures were collected by the Save Wied Garnaw Action Group and, together with the Sta Lucija Residents Action Committee, the petition was formally submitted to MEPA. 

The agricultural zone has been identified for the development of a four-storey, private residence for the elderly – an outside development zone (ODZ) application considered to be a major test case on the environmental credentials of the new administration.

The Wied Garnaw area is between Sta Lucija and Luqa. While the Sta Lucija local council has yet to discuss the issue, the Luqa local council has pronounced itself against the development.

The petition urges MEPA to conclude the proposal’s screening period by informing the applicant that the proposed development is not permissible because it runs counter to various development planning policies.

“The site in question is ODZ and the proposed development is not essential to agricultural, scenic and ecological needs.  The proposed development is also not permissible since the South Malta Local Plan classifies the site in question  as an area of agricultural importance, a rural conservation area, a valley protection zone, an aquifer protection zone and part of a strategic open space gap,” the action group said.

“The proposed development would also pose a severe threat to all the valley, as such a permit would be used as a precedent to press for other urban development in neighbouring fields.” 

In 2006, an application (PA/08097/05) for the construction of 12 maisonettes and underlying garages on the same site was refused by MEPA.  

The site is a green space between two towns in Malta’s densely-populated south. The action taken by MEPA will now determine whether this area will be lost to development or if it will remain open space as a legacy for future generations.   

This case is also testing how effective MEPA, particularly the Environment Protection Directorate, is in upholding development restrictions in ODZ and other protected areas.

“Malta’s open green spaces are at crisis point.  The remaining few are being destroyed for activities which could easily be undertaken inside the development scheme.  The Wied Garnaw petition represents a national momentum wherein the general public is calling on MEPA to uphold ODZ policies and to ensure effective protection of the scarce remaining countryside,” the action group said.

The action group also called on all Members of Parliament to speak out on the need for ODZ to remain ODZ. 

“Maltese politicians can contribute greatly by reaching a cross-party consensus on the need for MEPA to refuse ODZ developments applications not permitted by ODZ policies.”

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