Bidnija shooting range: one room developed into a 6,000 sqm range, no permits

The government even funded illegal development while the Planning Authority turned a blind eye


The government and its ‘independent’ authorities, including the Planning Authority, have allowed the illegal operation of a 6,000 square metre shooting range in Bidnija’s Outside Development Zone (ODZ), even though the premises have no planning permit and has been developing illegally in a piecemeal fashion since 1978.

To add insult to injury, most of the illegal infrastructural works have been paid for by taxpayers through government funds.

The issue, which has been pending for years throughout both PN and Labour administrations, has once again come to the fore through a legal challenge by a group of residents who live in the vicinity of the range.

The residents are asking the court to order the closure of the range run by the Malta Shooting Sports Federation due to the nuisance they are forced to suffer from the site that does not even have the necessary permits.

The residents said that the shooting range is creating continuous illegal noise to their detriment, particularly on weekends and public holidays when the shooting goes on without interruption from dawn to dusk.

A sound engineer commissioned by the residents has confirmed that the sound levels during the operation of the shooting range are higher than those permitted by EU directives, but further studies are needed.

Investigations carried out by The Shift confirm that most of the range is not covered by planning permits, including recent additions made by the government.

The only permit that exists dates back to pre-Planning Authority days, when in 1978, then-Minister for Works and Sports, Lorry Sant, had issued a building permit for a 90 square metre structure to be located as far away as possible from Wied Qannota and screened by fast growing trees, among other conditions.

This original 90 square metre structure on ODZ land was then transformed into a fully-fledged shooting range the size of a football ground, with various structures and amenities, all built illegally, including the car park next to the shooting range that was recently tarmacked by the government.

Before the 2017 elections, the administration led by disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat promised a state-of-the-art shooting range at Ta’ Kandja to replace the Bidnija range.

Soon after the elections, a raft of irregular multi-million-euro direct orders were awarded to contractors close to the government so that a parcel of land forming part of the police academy in Siggiewi could be turned into a modern shooting range.

Although initially budgeted at €7 million, the Ta’ Kandja project, managed by today’s Parliamentary Secretary Chris Bonett, who was acting CEO of Sport Malta at the time, shot up to €14 million. Yet, to this day, the shooting range is not fully operational.

In the meantime, the government also backtracked on its promise to pass on the administration of the new Ta’ Kandja shooting range to the Malta Shooting Sports Federation, with the Federation having no option but to continue using their illegal site in Bidnija.

Residents who spoke to The Shift confirmed that, following their complaints, the government had once again promised them to solve the issue after the elections by passing on Ta’ Kandja to the Federation and closing the Bidnija range.

Despite the illegal structures at the Bidnija site, the Planning Authority has not yet issued any enforcement orders on the shooting range.


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25 days ago

Pàjjiz immexxi mill-hallelin ghsll-hallelin ta kull ghamla w daqs. MAFIA Malta

25 days ago

Sandro should full well know about building without permits and how easy it is to sanction it?🤣

Last edited 25 days ago by Greed
Gee Mike
Gee Mike
25 days ago

My understanding was that the original budget for Ta Kandja phases 1,2 &3 was 3.5 million.
Muscat doubled the figure on the fly in 2017, then miked it further with some help for his friends to 14 million. Still, he had to eliminate a not so corruptable Parliamentary secretary of sports, to avoid indigestion. Only phase one is complete so expect another eye-watering €28 million to complete it.
It would interesting to see how all the villas around the shooting range in Bidnija got their permits, back in 1980 it was at the back of beyond. Just fields.

Last edited 25 days ago by Gee Mike
24 days ago

You can check the Qormi clay shooting club. Same story. All lead ending in nearby fields were crops are grown.

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