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Bulebel land looks set for upgrade following pressure

Land to be made public in swift procedure

About 120,000 square metres of land in Bulebel would be taken up by the proposed extension. Photo: Daniel Cilia

About 120,000 square metres of land in Bulebel would be taken up by the proposed extension. Photo: Daniel Cilia

The land around the Bulebel Industrial Estate might soon be taken out of the development zone following mounting pressure, sources said. 

They said the Planning Authority’s executive council had kick-started the process to protect the large parcel of land following massive public pressure over plans to develop it. 

The sources added that once completed, it would be handed over to the Cabinet and made public in a swift procedure, similar to the issuing of legal notices.

Residents, local councils and conservationists had all protested against plans to extend the industrial estate earlier in the year, saying that it should be removed from the development zone altogether and protected for future generations.

Objectors have argued that Punic and Roman remains lie in the area, and that the extended industrial zone would creep to just 200m from residences in a Żejtun neighbourhood known as Ġebel San Martin.

The farmers, who have already received eviction notices, have no legal title to the land

About 120,000 square metres of land would be taken up by the proposed extension, displacing farmers who use the land to cultivate vines, potatoes and other crops.

Read: Żejtun residents fight to save 120,000 sq.m. of farmland

Also, approximately 70 carob trees can be found in the area, although it has been pointed out that they could be retained if the area were to be developed.

Read: 17th century church remains could be under land earmarked for development

The plans to extend the area has been confirmed by Malta Industrial Parks Ltd, the State entity responsible for industrial zones.

A legal notice issued a few months ago exempts MIP expansions from a full permit application. They can proceed with a development notification order, usually reserved for minor developments.

Conservationists said that if the DNO procedure were employed, the project could go ahead without even having to go through environmental studies and public consultation requirements.

But even though the land is already designated as part of the industrial estate, the 2006 local plan recommends further studies “to determine the agricultural value of the area before any additional industrial development can be permitted”.

The land is owned by the government. The farmers, who have already received eviction notices, have no legal title. They said their lease payments had not been accepted.

The two main political parties have wasted no opportunity to point the finger of blame at each other over the potential land extension.

While the Nationalist Party has urged the government not to use agricultural land to extend the industrial estate, Labour was quick to point out that it was a PN administration that had earmarked the land for building factories back in 2009.

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