A proposed development of greenhouses and solar farms on ODZ land in the heart of Mġarr is facing stiff opposition from residents in the area.
Complaints have been brought forward about the plans of greenhouses that will occupy an area of land the size of seven football pitches, 43,000 sqm of arable land to be exact.
Solar farms are planned to be constructed on top of these greenhouses. The affected area is right in the middle of Mġarr proper, locally known as Tar-Ragħad, with Zebbiegħ on one side, Binġemma and Ta’ Mrejnu on the other.
“It will literally split the whole village by a massive village of glass,” said one resident.
The affected area is said to include about one-quarter of protected garigue while its ecosystem houses endemic and indigenous plants such as shrubs, carob trees, and wild thyme, traditional rubble walls and their habitats.
There are archeological remains dating back to Roman Times on-site, as well as a traditional Maltese Girna.
“This will have serious consequences on the area, and will further degrade Mġarr’s traditional village environment, as well as creating a massive eyesore,” one resident said.
The project will also be contributing to the destruction of fertile arable land which can be utilized by farmers, as well as a minimization of rainwater percolation in the perched and mean sea level aquifer due to the solar farms.
“I often go for walks with my family through the passage there and we have come across wildlife like hedgehogs, rabbits, snakes, and lizards as well as birds and insects. I am also aware of a bee colony nearby where local honey is harvested. This project will have an irreversible effect on this wildlife,” said another resident.
Many residents have also expressed that while they are in favor of renewable energy, there must be a more sustainable way of doing this that does not ruin more land. Typically, solar farms are placed on previously used land, as seen in The Benghajsa solar farm, which repurposed a disused quarry.
A petition against said development is already active, with over 1000 residents having already signed it.
Do you agree with the residents?