Farmer’s eviction confirmed, paving way for ‘compromised’ WasteServ project

A court of appeals decision last week confirmed an eviction notice issued by the Lands Authority against a Magħtab farmer, forcing him to leave the land he has tilled for decades to make way for WasteServ’s waste-to-energy incinerator project in the area.

The court of appeal, presided over by Judge Lawrence Mintoff, decided that since the land in question, sized around 20 tumoli, had been leased to the farmer, John Pullicino’s relatives, Pullicino himself had no title to the land, nor could he inherit it, despite having worked the land for decades.

From the various witnesses’ testimonies, it resulted that Pullicino had made requests with the Lands Authority to be recognised as a lessee and farmer on the land in question but was never able to obtain a title over the land.

According to WasteServ CEO Richard Bilocca’s testimony, the land in question will be used in service of “a project of national importance”, referring to the ECOHive project in the area consisting of a ‘waste-to-energy’ plant processing 192,000 tonnes of waste each year, a 70,000 tonne per year ‘organic processing plant’ and a ‘thermal treatment facility’ which will intake medical and butcheries waste.

A ‘compromised’ €600 million tender for the project was awarded on Monday to the French Paprec Energies Consortium, of which the Bonnici Group is a 40% shareholder. The tender went ahead despite the Department of Contracts ‘mistakenly’ publishing bidders’ offers before the tender had been closed, revealing competitors’ sensitive information.

Pullicino testified that while the land was leased to his wife’s late aunt, he had been working there since the 90s. He claimed that he had attempted to obtain a title over the land with the Lands Authority multiple times, being told on one occasion to wait due to “an upcoming change in legislation”.

He also claimed that he was offered and accepted another piece of land in exchange for the one he tilled in a word-of-mouth agreement with Bilocca, only to be later referred to the Lands Authority as Bilocca claimed to have no say in land transfers.

Last April, The Shift reported how the courts upheld a prohibitory injunction filed by Pullicino halting illegal works that had been started by WasteServ on the land in question despite the ongoing judicial process contesting the eviction.

When issuing the prohibitory injunction, the court noted that “WasteServ’s actions in completely ignoring the ongoing judicial process are indeed worrying to this court”, calling into question WasteServ’s “respect to the rule of law.”

Plans for the incinerator have already been delayed several years, with the WasteServ facing a deluge of resignations from some of its most seasoned professionals since Bilocca took the helm, once more calling into question the continued mismanagement of Malta’s waste and energy sectors.

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Toni Borg
Toni Borg
1 month ago

Bonnici Bros!!!!……where havi I heard that name before????

Joe l ghasfur
Joe l ghasfur
1 month ago

Hekk qeghda taghmel il land authority meta tigi biex tintiret il qbiela jew jaghlaq ic cens mal bdiewa genwieni. Mal izilupaturi u il fat cats differenti kollox fuq platt tal fidda.
Jien imgarrab bhal dal bidwi u nifmu min xix ghadej. Hemm bzonn li dal poplu iqum qawma fuq tieghu ghax mal hin kollox ser johdulna.
Qabel l elezjoni tal 2013 il miserabli Muscat weghdna il Buskett li lil bdiewa kien ser jirikonoxihom bit titli fuq l art li jahdmu. Kelmntu zamma kieku mhux maghna il bdiewa izda ma dal qabda hallelin li ma ghandom xebgha qatt. Ja gidieb u halliel

1 month ago

Sorry, Mr. Pullicino, but once big business had cast its covetous eyes, you didn’t have a hope in hell.
Unless you illegally pinch a fort, or a beach.

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