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Open the floodgates: Plans for 'agro-tourism' complex in Binġemma alarm FAA

eNGO warns PA not to set a dangerous precedent

Photo: FAA

Photo: FAA

Plans to develop seven flatlets, a swimming pool and restaurant on a pristine tract of land in Binġemma could set a frightening precedent that would "spell the end" for Malta's rural landscape if approved, Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar has warned.

If successful, the application - which has been described as "agro-tourism accommodation" by the applicant - would knock down one of the last remaining obstacles to ODZ development and open the floodgates to similar applications, the eNGO warned on Saturday.

The applicant in question has cited a controversial 2014 policy guideline document which loosened restrictions on countryside construction that would have previously been forbidden.

That document, the Rural Policy and Design Guidance, nevertheless requires applicants to be “a registered farmer tilling 60 tumoli of contiguous/consolidated land”.

FAA is arguing that this disqualifies the Binġemma application, as the land in question “has not been worked in over 10 years” and also falls short of the 60 tumoli minimum threshold.

“If the PA is to waive this fundamental restriction, the authority would be killing off one of the last remaining safeguards protecting ODZ,” it warned. “An approval of this application would set a precedent for practically any patch of land in ODZ, in the most remote locations, to be developed into hotels under the guise of agro-tourism.”

Genuine agro-tourism accommodation had to be run by real farmers tilling the land and providing visitors with an authentic experience celebrating Maltese products, it said.

“Agro-tourism should be an avenue available only to legitimate farmers, as a means to reinvigorate the sector. We cannot keep compromising the agricultural industry and straining local resources to keep accommodating the land-grabbing frenzy.”

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