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Updated - Major sites to be classified as 'sites in the public domain'

Dr Azzopardi launches the White Paper, flanked by Astrid Vella from FAA and Mario Farrugia from Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna.

Dr Azzopardi launches the White Paper, flanked by Astrid Vella from FAA and Mario Farrugia from Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna.

Updated - Adds comments by NGOs - Historical buildings are to be classified as ‘property in the public domain’ which cannot be transferred to the private sector except by ad hoc legislation, Lands Minister Jason Azzopardi said today.

Fort BingemmaFort Bingemma

The proposal is at the heart of a White Paper launched by the ministry today.

Dr Azzopardi told a press conference that such legislation would place the government under closer scrutiny when it planned to transfer historic properties.

It would also prevent a repeat of what happened in 1981 when Fort Bingemma and Fort Benghajsa were transferred for use as animal breeding farms.

The minister said the two forts are to return to the government as vacant possession in the near future.

The minister said the designation of public domain would apply to fortifications and sites of natural beauty or cultural importance.

WHITE PAPER WELCOMED BY NGOS

The Ministry said the White Paper had been welcomed by NGOs.

It quoted Vince Attard, president of Nature Trust, as saying this was a courageous decision by the government aimed at greater transparency.

Simone Mizzi, president of Din L-Art Helwa said this reflected political commitment to protect the national heritage and curtail abuse. 

Mario Farrugia of FWA welcomed the fact that the new law would better define which land and properties were in the public domain. 

Astrid Vella said the new law would lead to better management of historic sites.

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