Plans to turn a disused quarry in Armier into an off-road motorsports track has got the backing of the Mellieha local council and Transport Malta despite objections from environmentalists, activists, and farmers in the area.
The application, presented by the Malta Motorsport Federation, looks to transform a 16,000sqm area known as the Barriera ta’ l-Aħrax into an off-road facility. The land in question is already being used as a dumping site for debris and has been degraded by significant excavation. Still, concerns remain over the project’s impact on the mostly agricultural area, which is protected under law.
The idea for the project dates back to 2011 with an application being submitted in 2016. It has undergone several changes since and is currently receiving representations from the public ahead of its potential recommendation by the Planning Authority.
Mellieha’s local council has informed the Planning Authority that it is backing the project but did raise concerns over the on-site washing facilities and the use of the facilities after sunset.
However, the project has still attracted significant opposition. Environmentalists and farmers of the area have highlighted that the project will generate significant air pollution, noise pollution, and traffic to the area despite being rural in nature.
Meanwhile, it will also compromise the rural character of the area by creating a significant visual impact on the landscape.
The Superintendent of Cultural Heritage noted that while ” the application does not seem to entail direct material impact on identified cultural heritage assets, [it] does express concern at the intensification of development being proposed within the Aħrax area, which should be retained as a natural and cultural landscape”.
Armier beach, which is close by, is also already extremely congested especially in the summer months with boathouses, caravans and the like dominating the area. A mass spectator event will place significant pressure on the already sensitive surroundings, objectors warn.
Previous reports by the Environment Resources Authority into the proposal noted that the impacts of the development are unlikely to be significant to the point of warranting an EIA, given the issues.
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