Proposed Bulebel Industrial Estate expansion to be scrapped

Parliament’s environment committee has proposed changing the local plan to remove the area from the development zone

The proposed Bulebel industrial estate expansion is to be scrapped and the area's local plan changed to place agricultrual land outside the development zone
The proposed Bulebel industrial estate expansion is to be scrapped and the area's local plan changed to place agricultrual land outside the development zone

Environment minister Jose Herrera has written to parliament’s environment committee informing it that the government had decided against the development of Wied iz-Zring in Bulebel.

The site had previously been earmarked for an expansion of the adjacent industrial estate, a decision that was condemned by residents and environmental NGOs.

In his letter, Herrera said that he and Economy minister Chris Cardona had agreed that the government should reverse the 2006 decision to include the area in the development zone.

“We are doing this because we are committed to seeing the country’s cultural and historical heritage protected,” Herrera said, adding that on the initiative of his ministry, a discussion had taken place in government for the land to be protected even in the future.

“Through this step, the government is showing its will and determination for any proposed development to be sustainable and in the ultimate interest of the Maltese and Gozitan people,” said Muscat.

Parliamentary secretary for animal rights Clint Camilleri, parliamentary secretary for social accommodation Roderick Galdes, and committee chairman Alex Muscat were present on behalf of the government. Democratic Party MP Godfrey Farrugia was the only Opposition MP present for the meeting.

Muscat said the given that the committee had discussed the issue with Malta Industrial Parks, residents and NGO, as well as the both ministers, it was in a position to recommend that plans for the land’s development be scrapped.

“I am proposing that we agree with the government’s position, and change the local plan so that the land is once again made ODZ,” Muscat said.

Farrugia reminded Muscat however, that the committee acted on behalf of parliament and not the government, and that it should be making its own recommendations, rather than agreeing with the government’s position.

Moreover, Farrugia said that given that the land was fertile agricultural land, that the expropriation of the land should immediately be halted, and the farmers currently working the land recognised.

“Essentially we are saying that we will go back to the way it was before 2006, and that the possibility of it being used for an industrial estate be removed,” said Muscat. He added that the land in questioned belonged to the government and that the term expropriated was technically incorrect.

“If anything, what needs to happen is that in future, the Lands Authority can regularise the farmers’ position and allow them to pay rent,” he added, with the committee members present agreeing with to the proposal. 

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