A group of Magħtab residents, farmers and landowners have warned Wasteserv and the Lands Authority are blatantly breaking the law with their plans to expropriate their land so as to expand the nearby landfill.
In a judicial protest filed against the two government authorities, the Environment Ministry, ERA and the Attorney General, the 18 people recounted how the Lands Authority had declared in an official notice on 17th December that studies should took place on the potential expropriation of the land in question, 254,144 square metres in total. It later transpired that this proposal was intended to extend the Magħtab Environmental Complex.
However, Wasteserv hasn’t filed a planning application, with the complainants arguing that the Planning Authority couldn’t approve it anyway as such a proposal would go against the Magħtab Planning Strategy Area Policy and the rehabilitation plans for the area. No request for an environmental impact assessment was filed either.
They said Wasteserv has a plot of 600,000 square metres in the area, originally intended to be converted into a park, which it can use as a landfill if it so pleases.
“It is clear that there is absolutely no need for it to forcefully seize other lands and fields.”
Yet, in the same breath, they criticised successive governments for falling back on promises to regenerate the Magħtab landfill into a national park, even acquiring several millions in EU funds for that purpose. Indeed, some of the complainants had actually purchased properties in the area in the first place because they believed it was going to be regenerated.
“Any expropriation will not only be unnecessary but capricious; it won’t only be against the law but also will breach the fundamental rights of the complainants,” they warned. “The complainants are holding them responsible for any consequences or damages that can be suffered as a result of their behaviour.”
Meanwhile, Nationalist MP Robert Cutajar has launched an online petition against Wasteserv’s plans, which has just under 400 signatures as of the time of writing.