Press Releases

Press Release 14.08.2017

Front Ħarsien ODZ is objecting to the development of a restaurant in Dwejra, Gozo. Front is endorsing the objections of Light Pollution Awareness Group, BirdLife Malta, Friends of the Earth Malta and Nature Trust Malta.
The area in question is considered as being a very ecologically sensitive one, given it is within a Natura 2000 site  and is a Special Protected Area  designated under the Wild Birds Directive. The proposed extension if of concern in view of increased lighting of the area which can disturb fauna and create light pollution in an area which is renowned for its tranquility. This site also offers some of the best night skies on the island which is ideal for astronomical observations.
This development is located within an area of Dark Sky Heritage (Gozo and Comino local plan) and thus no exterior lighting should be allowed.
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Front Ħarsien ODZ to object to Zonqor development

Press Release 26.07.2017

Front Ħarsien ODZ will be formally objecting to the application to develop a university campus, part of which is located outside development zones and on land earmarked in the local plan for a national park.
Front Ħarsien ODZ insists that the project is still in breach of existing planning policies including the local plan which identifies the area for inclusion in a national park and the SPED which obliges developers to consider land within development zones before considering ODZ sites.
“We are calling on the government to include the land presently earmarked for a massive car park, student halls and sports facilities in the Inwadar park. It simply does not make sense to turn an area immediately next to the Inwadar Park in to a construction and excavation site”.
Moreover it does not make any sense for government to designate the Inwadar Park as a public domain site as proposed by government while allocating public land immediately next for construction.”
The local plan itself his local plan designates the area as a national park “primarily for informal recreation (e.g. walking, cycling) and the appreciation of the ecological, geological, archaeological as well as cultural-historical features of these areas”. Within this area “priority will be given to the conservation, protection and improvement of the natural and cultural-historical heritage”.
Moreover the project may disturb the ecology of the adjacent Special Protection Area, which is immediately next to it through noise and light pollution. Front Harsien ODZ will continue to oppose the project by all legal means necessary with the aim of including the whole of Zonqor Point in the Imwadar park.  To achieve this aim the Front will continue participating in the planning process and will continue to mobilise the public as it did two years ago in the largest ever environmental protest in recent Maltese history.

New PA website a step backward in transparency

Press Release 24.07.2017
Front Harsien ODZ is calling on the Planning Authority to immediately reinstate the facility to search for all pending ODZ applications in each locality of Malta and Gozo and the facility to search all pending planning enforcements in each locality of Malta and Gozo.
Earlier versions of the website always included the facility to search pending applications and enforcements by locality and by designations like Urban Conservation Areas and developments proposed Outside Development Zones.
“In this way, Local Councils, NGOs and the general public are being deprived of a valuable tool to scrutinize all pending applications including those presented in the past and those which have still not been published in the government gazette but which have been given a PA number.”
Although the present website still gives viewers the opportunity to view applications published in the government gazette each Wednesday, the present website is deprived of the facility to search all pending application in each locality and to do so by ODZ or UCA designation.
Moreover past website also gave viewers the opportunity to search applications by street or location as an alternative to the geo-server where the viewer has to have clear knowledge of the exact geographic location of a development.
Front Harsien ODZ described the latest changes to the PA website as a step backwards in terms of transparency and is calling on the PA to immediately reintroduce the features which have been removed from the new website.
“One of the few positive things of the PA has been its transparency in providing information on pending applications.  The new website is a big step backward and an insult to people’s intelligence and betrays the expectations of a modern democratic society.”

Objection: PA 0907/17 Development in Bidnija

Attn: Planning Authority
PA 0907/17 Development in Bidnija

Front Ħarsien ODZ objects to this proposal in view of the fact that the site in question is designated as agricultural land and outside development zone. Industrial development should be limited to industrial zones according to local plans.

Stables at Munxar should be refused – application contravenes rural policy

Press Release 23.02.2017
Front Harsien ODZ objects strongly to PA 04629/16 for the demolition of existing rooms and construction of horse stables in Munxar, M’Scala which is designated for its ecological importance. The application has been recommended for approval by the Planning Authority’s Case Officer.
The application proposes to demolish pre-1978 buildings with a total footprint of 95 sq m and to replace these with a eight stables, paddocks, vet’s office, and storage with a built up footprint of 237 sq m. The stables alone will be larger than the rooms to be demolished. This strikes the Front as being in direct contravention of Rural Policy 6.2C(3) which stipulates that “the replacement building does not exceed the total floor area of the previous building/s.”
Moreover, the Front notes that since January 2016, there have been over 30 applications for stables outside the development zone, at least 15 applications to sanction existing stables, and five applications for change of use from stables into residential units. The pattern of using stables to circumvent development regulations has been evident for a number of years and the PA ought to complete its review of the Rural Policy to address this.
Front Harsien ODZ will be attending the case hearing on 24th February.

“Rural Development Guidelines should be withdrawn”

Press Release 14.02.2017
Front Harsien ODZ welcomed the fact that both the Labour and Nationalist
parties are making it clear through their media statements that they oppose
ODZ applications *for new dwellings  in rural areas*.
*While describing the application withdrawn by Bezzina  which  would have
extended three roofless rooms to accommodate a completely new dwelling, a
drive-in and a swimming pool as unacceptable, Front Harsien ODZ notes that
a number of similar applications involving the reconstruction of
countryside ruins have already been approved by the Planning Authority
thanks to the Rural Development Guidelines which were approved in 2014.*
“The Rural Development Guidelines published in 2014 facilitate ODZ
development which could have a terrible cumulative impact on Malta’s
countryside. Given the recent statements by the two major political
parties, we expect the government to ask the Planning Authority to replace
the guidelines approved in 2014 with a  more restrictive policy.”.
*In particular Front Harsien ODZ calls for a clear ban on the
reconstruction of countryside ruins to create new dwellings and for the
repeal of police 6.2.A. which permits the redevelopment of buildings with a
historical or vernacular interest as dwellings and 6.2.C which permits the
reconstruction of any building which existed prior to 1978.
*”Rather than simply exposing such cases when it suits partisan
interests as was the case with One TV, which is usually non-critical on ODZ
development such as the Zonqor proposal, political parties are expected to
make sure that policies do not pave the way for more construction in the
countryside.”  *
*Front Harsien ODZ also calls on all MPs on both sides, both  as owners and
in their professional role as architects not to exploit loopholes in
existing policies to accommodate unsustainable ODZ developments.*
Front Harsien ODZ has consistently objected to all unsustainable  ODZ
proposals in this regard.