Fireworks factory application turned down
The Malta Environment and Planning Authority has turned down an application for a fireworks factory to be rebuilt outside the development zone in Munxar, close to where the original one blew up in 1997 killing two people.
The application was filed by the July 20 Pyrotechnics Society in its third attempt to rebuild its factory, in an area known as Ta' Anġlu in Tas-Sanap which lies between Munxar and Xlendi.
Mepa's Development Control Commission unanimously turned down the application because the site falls within a scheduled area of high landscape value and because of the ecological and scientific importance of Xlendi Valley and the coastal cliffs just metres away. The DCC said the site was also a Special Area of Conservation protected by the EU habitats directive.
The construction of new fireworks factories is not permitted by the Gozo and Comino Local Plan. Under this plan "there is a general presumption against new fireworks factories in Gozo".
In its ruling, the DCC said the site consisted mainly of cultivated fields and a small rocky part. It lay on a slope and formed the southern side of a valley leading to an area known as Il-Kantra, in Xlendi.
The proposed one-storey-high development would have consisted of two stores, surrounded by a protective wall, three workshops and a kitchen. The proposal included a boundary wall 1.5 metres high with a wire fence rising 1.6 metres above the boundary wall.
The original factory had been built according to a permit granted in 1988. In 1999, two years after the explosion which almost completely demolished it, the society filed an application to rebuild it but only part of it would have been constructed on the site where the previous factory once stood.
This application had been refused and then dismissed at reconsideration stage and again at appeals stage. In 2007, yet another application was filed but this time it was withdrawn by the applicant before it was even considered by Mepa.
Meanwhile, the DCC also turned down an application for the construction of an underground reservoir and farmers' storage rooms in the Ta' Baldu area, limits of Rabat. The application for the 216 square metres reservoir and the agricultural store on an area of 20 square metres and a height of 3.4 metres was filed by land owner Tancred Tabone. It was refused because of the sensitivity of the area.
The DCC noted that the site was located outside the development zone in an area of ecological importance. It was also a special area of conservation while the North West Local Plan identified the area as an area of high landscape value.