The Mġarr Local Council, along with concerned residents, has taken a strong stance against the proposed development of greenhouses and solar farms on ODZ land in the heart of Mġarr.
The project is planned to destroy an area of land the size of seven football pitches, which translates to 43,000 sqm of arable land, garigue and archeological remains dating back to Roman times.
Lovin Malta spoke to Paul Vella, the mayor of Mġarr, and Eman Vella, a local agricultural consultant, to get some feedback about this controversial project that is being proposed.
“The council is very concerned about this application for development, as is all the local Mġarr community. There are real concerns about the visual, developmental, social, and agricultural impact it will have on Mġarr, and indeed in all Malta,” the Mġarr mayor told Lovin Malta.
The mayor described it as “a travesty, which will only benefit the owners and be utilised to make money with no regard for the negative impacts on all our community”.
“The site is also close to the primary school and therefore the children will have to face this monstrosity every day and while at school they are taught to appreciate the open spaces, they will see the crude reality of such a large open agricultural site being developed in an industrial location,” Vella said.
He also lamented on how this is not a project that would be helping the environment, but rather the complete opposite.
“The council greatly fears that this development is green-lighted, and it will inadvertently serve as a stepping stone and as a precedent for further open green spaces being sacrificed with the excuse of producing alternative energy,” the mayor said.
He also clarified the council is in favour of renewable energy, but the environment should not be sacrificed in return.
“Whilst the council is fully supportive of the generation of alternative and clean energy, it also firmly believes this shall not come at the expense of precious, green and agricultural land.”
Eman Vella, local agricultural consultant, offered his expertise on the matter and outlined multiple aspects of why this should not even be considered as an application.
“From an environmental point of view, the applicant firstly did not even consider the fact that part of the site is not agricultural or farmland. Secondly, there are various archeological and historical remains of significant importance in the area,” Vella told Lovin Malta.
He also gave reasons as to why this is not feasible as an application, not even on a technical level.
“Mainly if the scope is to generate photovoltaic electricity on a commercial scale, light penetration in the greenhouse will be restricted leading to a lack of growth of plants inside.”
From a social aspect, “having such a large area covered with greenhouse structures with shiny PV panels on top instead of an open green area will reduce the sense of place of this unique rural area,” he said.
“In my opinion, without a sound business plan in hand about the type of structures, the market, and the suitability of PVs for crop growth beneath, this application should not even be considered,” he concluded.
Representations against this application are currently being accepted by the Planning Authority. The deadline is the 22nd of September and can be sent in via email to [email protected]
Do you think a solar farm should be built on ODZ land in Mġarr?