The removal of the top soil on a 2,800 square metre land parcel in the protected area of Tal-Wej in Mosta has been halted after the developer withdrew the application.
Residents who live in the vicinity of the ODZ area described the proposed soil removal as a “pretext for a future application” and the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage warned the excavations were “unnecessary” and “unjustified.”
John Mary Micallef who claims ownership of the land parcel had applied for a permit to remove the top soil under the pretext of an “archaeological investigation.”
The site enjoys various levels of protection which made the approval of any development in the area unlikely but the Planning Authority’s work has been cut short with the sudden withdrawal.
The developers had not stated their intentions for this site which is located outside development boundaries in San Pawl tat-Targa along Triq is- Seneskalk and residents and civil society had called on the developer to come clean on his intentions.
Reacting to the withdrawal, the newly formed online community Take the PA to Court welcomed the move and said “this was clearly the pretext for the site to be developed, as proven by the fact that Engel and Volkers was selling the land “with plans to be in rationalisation for development of terraced houses and villas.”
Last month, The Shift revealed that a plot of ODZ land in San Pawl tat-Targa measuring 2,750 square metres located just outside the building scheme is being advertised as “an investment opportunity since it is adjacent to (building) scheme and with plans to be in rationalization for development of terraced houses and villas”.
The tip-off to The Shift came from Take the PA to Court whose objective is to “unite under outrage and grief at the loss of our environment, culture and heritage, and transform that into positive action.”
Speculation on a prospective extension of building boundaries in San Pawl tat-Targa has been fuelled by the mysterious “archaeological investigation”.
Front Ħarsien ODZ had expressed concern that if the topsoil is removed, the area will be effectively destroyed and might lead to more urban sprawl in the area.
The area concerned is one of the last remaining lungs between Naxxar and Mosta, if the area is taken up by development, this would continue the urban sprawl.
Din l-Art Helwa had also called for the intervention of the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage and for the Planning Authority to ask the developers to present a full application stating their intentions for the site.
Parts of the Tal-Wej area were included in the development zone through the rationalisation exercise of 2006.