Scrap the Proposed Plan For Miniature Airstrip in Wied Znuber

Birżebbuġa residents, farmers and people keen on protecting Wied Żnuber are shocked at plans announced on February 12 for a miniature airstrip by the valley and the cliffs of the area. Plans for the airstrip were announced at the signing of an agreement between the government agency INDIS and an airplane model association.

The project was concocted in secret and escaped public consultation but is expected to have major environmental and social impact. Official plans have not been published and an application for development is yet to be filed but indications are clear that the airstrip would cover 44 acres of natural and agricultural land; the equivalent of seven football grounds. The proposed site being a garigue would also require extensive landfills to accommodate a long tarmac strip and clubhouse. The loud and incessant noise of model remote control airplanes would drastically increase light and noise pollution in the area and destroy the serenity of the valley and surrounding cliffs.

It is deeply disturbing to witness the hashing out of such a project in close proximity to a Natura 2000 site, known to the authorities as ecologically sensitive and home to many protected animals and vegetation. The model airstrip would only be a stone’s throw away from the breeding ground and nesting cliffs of Scopoli’s and Yelkouan Shearwaters, protected colonies of birds, which are very sensitive to light and noise and are threatened species.

The site is also home to a number of historical remains including a dolmen, a military shelter, ancient water canals and prehistoric recipients used in burial rites. Under British rule, the site was fenced off to protect the dolmen.

This plan will adversely affect farmers. Some farmers who till land on the site have received notice to vacate, while others would face the ongoing danger of models aircrafts flying overhead.

In light of this, we emphasise that the airstrip project is unacceptable because it will destroy virgin land and disastrously impact the surrounding area. We respect the hobbyists concerned but see no justice in a project that will hurt residents and farmers and unleash extensive damage on the environment. We also believe that alternative sites may be found for this project to take place with least negative impact on the people and the environment.

The site in question is cited in the Local Plan as part of an industrial area. This does not reflect the true conditions of an area located right by the valley and the surrounding cliffs. All development applications on this site have so far also been rejected.

The south of Malta is burdened by overdevelopment negatively impacting the environment, open spaces and quality of life. This project will continue to burden the south by robbing it of the ecologically sensitive and socially important sites of Wied Żnuber and surrounding areas. We therefore call for the immediate dissolution of the plan and a change in the Local Plan that would see the site become an ODZ. In this manner it can act as buffer between the industrial area and Wied Żnuber.


We are determined to oppose the plan until it is scrapped.


Organisations participating in the Press Conference:


Għaqda Storja u Kultura Birżebbuġa

ŻAK Birżebbuġa

12th Birżebbuġa Girl Guides

Moviment Graffitti

BirdLife Malta

Din l-Art Ħelwa

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar

Friends of the Earth Malta

Extinction Rebellion Malta

The Archaeological Society Malta

____________________________________________


Il-pjan għal mitjar fiż-żona ta’ Wied Żnuber għandu jitħassar

Residenti ta’ Birżebbuġa, bdiewa u persuni li għandhom għal qalbhom Wied Żnuber jinsabu maħsuda bil-pjanijiet li tħabbru fit-12 ta’ Frar għal mitjar tal-mudelli tal-ajruplani biswit il-wied u l-irdum taż-żona. Il-pjan għal dan il-mitjar tħabbar waqt l-iffirmar ta’ ftehim bejn l-aġenzija tal-Gvern INDIS u assoċċjazzjoni tat-titjir tal-mudelli tal-ajruplani.


Dan il-proġett, li mistenni jkollu impatti ambjentali u soċjali kbar, inħema fis-sigriet mingħajr ebda forma ta’ konsultazzjoni mal-pubbliku. Filwaqt li s’issa għadhom ma ġewx ippubblikati l-pjanijiet uffiċjali, u lanqas biss hemm applikazzjoni għall-iżvilupp mal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar, hemm indikazzjonijiet li dan l-iżvilupp se jieħu 44 tomna ta’ art naturali u agrikola – daqs seba’ grawnds tal-futbol. Billi dan is-sit magħmul minn xagħri, ser ikun hemm bżonn radam estensiv sabiex jiġi livellat u jkunu jistgħu jinbnew strippa twila ta’ tarmak u struttura ta’ clubhouse. Din l-attività ser iżżid drastikament it-tniġġis tad-dawl u tal-istorbju minn ħsejjes qawwija u kontinwi ta’ mudelli ta’ ajruplani mdaqqsa. Dan ser jeqred is-serenità tal-wied u tal-irdum.


Huwa xokkanti kif proġett ta’ dan it-tip qed jiġi pjanat eżatt ħdejn sit tan-Natura 2000; magħruf mill-awtoritajiet stess bħala sit ekoloġikament sensittiv li jgħajjex bosta annimali protetti u veġetazzjoni importanti. Tefgħa ta’ ġebla l-bogħod mis-sit maħsub għall-mitjar hemm l-irdumijiet fejn ibejtu ċ-ċief u l-garni, kolonji protetti ta’ għasafar sensittivi ħafna għad-dawl u għall-istorbju u li diġà huma mhedda.


Fis-sit hemm ukoll numru ta’ fdalijiet storiċi fosthom dolmen, xelter militari, kanali antiki tal-ilma u ħofriet preistoriċi li kienu jintużaw fir-riti tad-dfin. L-Ingliżi kienu saħansitra dawwru struttura protettiva madwar id-dolmen sabiex jipproteġuh.


Dan il-pjan ser jaffetwa ħażin ukoll lill-bdiewa. Uħud mill-bdiewa li jaħdmu l-art f’din iż-żona diġà rċevew notifika sabiex iħallu l-għelieqi li jaħdmu, filwaqt li l-bdiewa l-oħrajn ser jaffaċċjaw il-perikolu kontinwu ta’ mudelli tal-ajruplani għaddejjin ivenvnu fuq rashom.


Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu, nisħqu li l-pjan tal-mitjar huwa totalment inaċċettabbli għaliex se jeqred art verġni u se jħalli impatt diżastruż fuq il-madwar. Għandna kull rispett lejn min iħaddan id-delizzju tat-titjir tal-mudelli tal-ajruplani, iżda nemmnu li mhuwiex ġust li jispiċċaw ibatu r-residenti, il-bdiewa u l-ambjent naturali ta’ pajjiżna sabiex isir proġett li ser jagħmel ħsara kbira. Nemmnu wkoll li jistgħu jinstabu alternattivi sabiex dan il-proġett isir f’post fejn ma jħallix impatt negattiv fuq in-nies u l-ambjent.


Fil-Pjan Lokali, is-sit inkwistjoni, jagħmel parti miż-żona industrijali. Iżda dan ma jirriflettix ir-realtà ta’ sit li, fil-verità, huwa art naturali li tinsab eżatt ħdejn wied u rdum. Sa issa, l-applikazzjonijiet għall-iżvilupp f’dan is-sit kollha ġew rifjutati.


In-naħa t’isfel ta’ Malta diġà mgħobbi b’ħafna żvilupp li qed iħalli impatt negattiv ferm fuq l-ambjent, l-ispazji miftuħa u l-kwalità tal-ħajja. Proġett ta’ dan it-tip se jkompli jgħarraq din is-sitwazzjoni billi jisraq l-ispazju soċjalment u ekoloġikament importanti ta’ Wied Żnuber u l-madwar. Għalhekk qegħdin nappellaw biex dan il-pjan jitħassar immedjatament u biex jinbidel il-Pjan Lokali ħalli ż-żona issir ODZ, u tkun tista’ isservi ta’ buffer adegwat bejn iż-żona industrijali u Wied Żnuber.


Aħna determinati li nkomplu nopponu dan il-pjan sakemm jiġi rtirat.


Lista ta’ għaqdiet li qegħdin jipparteċipaw fil-Konferenza Stampa:


Għaqda Storja u Kultura Birżebbuġa

ŻAK Birżebbuġa

12th Birżebbuġa Girl Guides

Moviment Graffitti

BirdLife Malta

Din l-Art Ħelwa

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar

Friends of the Earth Malta

Extinction Rebellion Malta

The Archaeological Society Malta