An enormous, modern building in the middle of a pristine valley in Bidnija that the Planning Authority had originally permitted as a sheep farm against a tirade of objections has been allocated €150,000 in European Union funding by the Maltese authorities.
The original proprietor of the supposed sheep farm, Jason Vella from Mgarr, is, however, appearing nowhere in the new development as it has already been taken over by a company owned by the building’s architect Konrad Bezzina.
The agriculture ministry approved the massive financial subvention and covered 75 per cent of the costs of the project, which is earmarked to “set up a goat and sheep farm – keeping Maltese tradition alive”.
Approved in 2019 by the PA’s ODZ development commission, headed by the notorious Elizabeth Ellul, the permit has been seen as grossly abusive since day one. Speculation, in fact, is rife that the ‘farm’ was merely a disguise and a cover for the construction of a new luxurious farmhouse.
Plans submitted at the time clearly indicated the twisting of PA rules and the use of loopholes since the designs Bezzina had submitted gave the immediate impression of a residential villa rather than a place to breed sheep.
Less than three years later, and without a single sheep setting hoof on the farm, the new building is nearing completion and is completely marring the landscape of the practically untouched Wied tal-Hzejjen.
The site is somehow now owned by a commercial entity named Bidnija Farming Enterprise Ltd, which is fully owned by Bezzina, the architect responsible for the project.
In the meantime, through a new application submitted just a few weeks ago, this time fronted by Notary Peter Bernard Carbonaro, who is a director of Bidnija Farming Enterprise Ltd along with Bezzina, the company has now applied to develop the building into a ‘farmer’s residence’ with some guestrooms and a breakfast room on the intermediate level, in a clear attempt to offer ‘guest accommodation’ in a rural setting and with unobstructed views of beautiful scenery.
As expected, the application’s ‘farming’ element remained intact so as to continue to make use of the PA’s rural policy, which allows such loopholes to be fully abused.
Farmers who till land in the area told The Shift that the ‘residential’ part of the building, which Bezzina is now attempting to have PA approve, is already being used for weekend getaways by the architect and his family.
A barbeque and dining area can also be seen clearly from outside the property.
It is not yet known whether an investigation has been initiated by the EU’s agricultural and rural development paying agency, the payments of which are controlled locally by the Maltese authorities, over the potential abuse of EU funds vis-à-vis the project and its end use.
An investigation could also trigger another probe by the EU’s anti-fraud office, OLAF.
In the meantime, the PA is currently evaluating whether to give Bezzina another green light. This latest application has already seen substantial objections, with many objectors taking the PA to task for having allowed the architect to so “blatantly” circumvent the laws.
Some objectors even sent the PA sarcastic pictures of a pig roast, suggesting the PA and Elizabeth Elllul as the main culprits behind the latest “environmental tragedy”.
Some sheep farm, bet there will be plenty of sleaze to muck out on the terrace! Crooks everywhere you look is more than apt, must be the ‘Quote of Century’ for the Labour government of the last ten years! I hope this will be investigated and other cases where money was provided too.
From an aesthetic point of view, it looks more like a jail
So it could be used to imprison some naughty sheep or goat and a few pigs for a majjalata!!!
More like for the pigs at the trough to keep engorging themselves!
Hitherto the animals had had little or no contact with Whymper on his weekly visits: now, however, a few selected animals, mostly sheep, were instructed to remark casually in his hearing that rations had been increased.
Always the sheep….4 legs bad…two legs good
Now we will see how the EU will act.
Don’t hold your breath that anything will be done. It’s there to stay. Only some rubble wall built without PA permit is demolished. At most the measly €150,000 will simply be refunded as it was just used as a catalyst to get the permit approved. The building has been touted to be on the market for several million euros, so the EU grant would have paid for itself some 30 times over at least. And how come the wording on the PA website was edited to say ‘the farm’ instead of ‘sheep farm’. This affair stinks. https://www.pa.org.mt/pacasedetails?CaseType=PA/07946/18
exactly – the pa is another den of thieves.
it stinks more than Cow Dung in autumn.
Corrupt government dishing out EU funds. As I have stated before, the EU funds to mafiamalta are intensifying corruption. Hope that the EU takes note as otherwise all honest people who voted to join the EU will be very very disappointed.
AND HOW. And where is she our EU President.
Am I right in saying that after all, Bezzina is only doing a Musumeci?
I believe that there is a gaping loophole in this process. An application is made to construct something supposedly for a purpose to which various entities, after consultation, will not find objection. Once the initial permit is approved, any application for a change or use or alterations will not have to go through the same supposedly rigorous process and will be decided by the PA only. Also, conveniently, there is a project to ‘rehabilitate’ that valley to remove ‘invasive species’, allow farmers better access (meaning tarmac the existing dirt road) and install CCTV cameras all the way to Għajn Riħana to prevent fly tipping of course. Seems to me that that valley is earmarked for development.
They are guided how to apply so the permit will be approved. Another application in odz in bidnija is awaiting approval this time for an agriculture education facility! Oh my lord! Unbelievable!!
Please report any misuse of EU funds to the EPPO. It will be investigated, and if there is a case prosecuted.
Who are the real ‘invasive species’ ?
The same stands for the Piccolo Padre EU paid Renovation cost , which was demolished before the paint was dry , sort of.
THE PL GOVERNMENT HAS TURNED MALTA INTO A PIGSTY.
When is this Elizabeth Ellul going to be investigated for this and others?
Too much corruption ends up break our Maltese economy locally and internationally , Than No one I repeat No One will be Happy
So dissapointing – the greed and lack of integrity seem to overide every decission
Labor government for corruptors and manigold people. This is disgusting for us the Maltese people. Some are above the law and how with the benefit of the labor corrupt gov.
According to a farmer who tills nearby fields, Saturday (15th Oct) morning saw some feverish activity at the ‘sheep farm’. Two foreign (probably Syrian) workers were dismantling bedroom furniture, hurredly carrying it downstairs and secreting it at the back of the building. It soon became obvious why. An inspection from MAFA (Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights) was due later that morning. The PA notice was put back on the wall by the gate, it had been removed soon after the PA fixed it there. The inspectors were quite thorough, taking photos of everything, including the roof ‘sheep’ swimming pool. They even counted the solar panels and took photos of all their serial numbers. Il-Perit Bezzina did not appear too amused and when they left he angrily tore off the PA notice, went back to close a door and then seems to have second thoughts because he reaffixed the PA notice in its place. He must have realised that the cat is now out of the bag and cannot be rebagged.
Dont worry. Everything will be settled according to the owners wishes!
The sheep in the local population find no objection to this sheep farm!