The brains behind the sham sheep farm in Bidnija have brought the agricultural land’s original farmer/owner, Jason Vella, back into the picture in what is being described as a public relations stunt aimed at countering public demand for the farm’s permit to be revoked.
The Planning Authority has permitted the outrageous development in the middle of an idyllic valley despite a raft of objections, including those of the Environment and Resources Authority.
Although the name of the applicant behind the monstrosity on the PA’s website has been changed to Jason Vella, the original documentation for the latest structural changes at the farm still listed Bidnija Farming Enterprises Ltd as the applicant.
The company was set up last year to develop an agritourism project and residence on the site and is fully owned by architect Konrad Bezzina.
It now results that soon after The Shift exposed the true intentions behind the development, Peter Carbonaro, a lawyer from Lija who was fronting the company as a director, resigned and Bezzina remained the sole director and owner of the business venture.
In a move at countering a class action instituted by Moviment Graffiti and more than 100 other objectors, the owners of the sham farm have now tasked a public relations firm to issue clarifications.
In a statement accompanied by photographs of farmer Jason Vella tending to sheep, the PR agency claimed that the latest application had been “misinterpreted”.
“This project was always intended as a sheep farm that creates fresh local produce. We simply wanted to provide visitor access so guests could watch the process. In line with practices around the world, we proposed to add two guest rooms, in which case it would make sense to have the farmer sleep there too,” the agency wrote on Vella’s behalf.
“However, given the reaction from the public, we decided to scrap those plans and simply request visitor access. The rest of the space will be used to house more sheep.”
The statement completely ignored the fact that the latest application, including for the owner to turn parts of the ‘farm’ into a residence, was originally filed by architect Konrad Bezzina, the owner of Bidnija Farming Enterprise Ltd.
In an immediate reaction to “a public relations offensive”, Graffiti insisted that the PA should have never allowed the sham farm in the first place and insisted on the revocation of the original permit.
“We will not be fooled,” Graffiti said in reference to the original farmer “popping up”.
“We stand by our request for the revocation of a building which should never have been built there,” the NGO insisted.
The sham farm was approved by the PA in 2019 by the then government-appointed Chairman of the Planning Commission Elizabeth Ellul. She was later removed from her position following a series of controversial green lights she gave to lucrative development applications.
On his part, the farmer, Jason Vella, was also given the green light to get a €150,000 grant from the EU to subsidise the building of ‘his sheep farm’. It is not yet known whether the EU is investigating this grant and how it was approved.