Marlene Farrugia strikes out against motor racetrack: ‘Build it in Sicily, not Malta’

PD leader Marlene Farugia says Malta is too small for a racetrack, proposes government builds one in Sicily and subsidises car enthusiasts' trips there

Partit Demokratiku leader Marlene Farrugia has come out against plans to build a motor racetrack
Partit Demokratiku leader Marlene Farrugia has come out against plans to build a motor racetrack

Partit Demokratiku leader Marlene Farrugia said that her party will lobby against a proposal to build a motor racetrack in Malta, and proposed that a future government build such a project in Sicily instead.

“The PD is dead-set against a racetrack, because our country simply cannot take it,” she said at an environmental debate earlier today. “A racetrack doesn’t just take us in the direction of taking up more ODZ land, but there are also the noise and pollution elements to consider.

“Instead, we can build a Malta-owned racetrack in Sicily. They have loads of land to spare that we can buy relatively cheap, and then subsidise motor enthusiasts’ trips there.”

PD candidates will contest the upcoming election under the Nationalist Party ticket, and Farrugia’s stance marks one of the first policy differences between the two coalition partners.

The PN has backed plans to build a motor racetrack, although it has insisted that it shouldn’t be build on land outside development zones. Indeed, PN Whip David Agius was present at a press conference in 2015, when parliamentary secretary for sports Chris Agius launched an expression of interest for the design, construction and operation of a motor recreation and education park.

“The choice of land will be the main issue. We will therefore consider the proposals that will be submitted and help enthusiasts with the realization of this dream,” David Agius had said.

At today’s debate, PN leader Simon Busuttil said that he appreciated Farrugia’s opposition to the racetrack, but that he is confident a compromise can be found.

“We live in a democracy and I believe we can hammer out our differences, iron them out and reach a compromise,” he said. “I am open-minded to see if a solution can be found for the relevant enthusiasts.”

The government earlier this month announced that it has earmarked the old airfield in Ta’ Qali for the development of a new racetrack.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat today reiterated his commitment towards the construction of a racetrack, but insisted that he will not accept any expression of interest that includes the development of ODZ land.

“We had turned down a lot of expressions of interests by international developers because they had all involved ODZ land and developments such as yacht marinas and villas as well as the motor racetrack,” he said. “That’s not the sort of development we wanted, but rather want a similar sort of development as that we recently attracted for the Marsa horse-racing track.”