Dingli Cliffs development application for former explosives factory suspended

The Planning Directorate has put on hold its assessment of a controversial development application to turn a former explosives factory at Dingli Cliffs located in a Natura 2000 site into a tourist development.

This was done at the request of the architect for the project, Joe Grech, according to information available on the Authority’s web site.

It is not yet known whether the applicants, Sunroute Hotels Ltd (the same owners of the popular JB Stores in Iklin), will be withdrawing their application or only modifying plans following strong opposition to the project.

It is not the first time that applications for controversial developments have been suspended, only to be kept on the back burner until negative public opinion subsides and then plans are revived with minor modifications.

The location of the abandoned explosives factory.

Last week, The Shift reported that the Planning Authority was flooded with objections over the planned development at the abandoned Pulvich factory, on the outskirts of Dingli.

Some 500 objectors, including several NGOs, are appealing to the Planning Authority to reject the application as it goes against planning rules and will permanently ruin the ecologically sensitive area.

Situated just metres away from Dingli Cliffs, the factory was built in the mid-80s by the Pugliesevic family to manufacture explosives used in quarrying.

The factory was given a permit in a remote location due to the danger the manufacture of explosives could pose to nearby residents and included a specific condition that the building was not be used for any other purpose.

After the family’s business received a blow due to improved technology, the area was left abandoned. Yet its owners were filing one application after another to turn the land into other lucrative uses including storage facilities, residential units and now a tourism complex.

The explosives factory is located in an area the size of a football ground.

For the past two decades, the Planning Authority and the Environment and Resources Authority have resisted all attempts to develop the site, insisting that the area is so sensitive that no development can be allowed.

Yet the latest application filed last June immediately raised suspicions of a sinister deal as ERA and the Malta Tourism Authority suddenly changed course and appeared to be toying with the idea of permitting the development.

Suspicions increased when, just a few weeks after the latest application was submitted, Infrastructure Malta and the Water Services Corporation hurriedly, and without a permit, dug up the road leading to the abandoned factory and installed a new potable water pipeline leading to the factory’s site.

The red circle indicates the location of the factory while the yellow line shows where the pipeline was installed.

No other residents live along the road where the infrastructural works were carried out.

Infrastructure Malta, which denies any connection between these works in one of Malta remotest areas and the Pulvich factory application, spent €350,000 of taxpayer money to install the pipeline and tarmac the roads leading to the abandoned factory.

The government agency falls under the responsibility of Transport and Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg, the former mayor of Dingli.


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1 year ago

I think that applicants have made the wrong choice for their architect.
They should have engaged architect Mu…… , the one most successful in getting PA approval for the most controversial applications.
PS – I have no connection to architect Mu… and certainly my comment is not intended as an advertisement for his successes in getting approval of his numerous doubious ODZ etc. applications.

Noel Ciantar
Noel Ciantar
1 year ago

Wow! That was a quick suspension.

This is clear evidence for everyone to see that the institutions are NOT working.

Application PA/05257/20 was filed with the PA in June 2020. It was subject to a screening process up to February 2021. Eight months of screening, but the PA found no reason to suspend the application.

It was also reviewed by the ERA, which issued a no objections letter as early as 18 September 2020.

Then, on 3 February 2021, the ERA concluded a three week screening process on a Project Description Statement dated 13 January 2021, and not only decided that an Environmental Impact Assessment was not required, but confirmed no objections to the application. The ERA filed its feedback with the PA on 29 March 2021.

Now, only after the feedback of the public, the APPLICANT has suspended the application.

Why did we have to wait for the public feedback to have this application suspended, not by the institutions, but by the APPLICANT?

Why are we paying millions of Euros on our institutions, filling them up with Professors, PhDs and consultants, when it is only after the public speaks that an application like this is suspended, by the APPLICANT?

If the public feedback is better than Prof. Victor Axiaq’s conscience and expert advice which he said he obtains for the ERA decisions, then why do we need his conscience and his experts’ advice?

The institutions are NOT working.

Noel Ciantar
Noel Ciantar
1 year ago

Getting deals done.

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