A Birżebbuġa NGO has called on Prime Minister Robert Abela to honour pre-electoral pledges and rule out all development in the Wied Żnuber valley abutting the Ħal Far industrial area, claiming he contradicted himself on the issue.
The Għaqda Storja u Kultura Birżebbuġa, said Abela’s comments earlier this month promising a model airstrip project in the area contradicted pledges made early last year where he claimed “no development will take place in Wied Żnuber.”
The NGO sent the prime minister its fifth formal letter on Monday, following letters dating back to February last year when the issue first arose.
The project, planned by a model aeroplane association and government industrial parks agency INDIS Malta, was widely condemned for its environmental impacts.
In its letter, the Birżebbuġa NGO referenced Abela’s parliamentary speech on 7 November in which he promised a model airstrip project for the area would advance if it was made smaller. The NGO reminded Abela of his pre-electoral pledge last year, in which he promised no development for the area.
Following his pledge, during a pre-electoral visit to Birżebbuġa, Abela had also claimed the area surrounding the valley would be turned into an outside development zone area.
The NGO reiterated its previous statements to the prime minister. They said, “Irrelevant of the model airstrip’s size, the activity is inadequate for an area right next to a Natura 2000 site.” They said the model aeroplane’s use would negatively impact the adjacent site.
“We believe the collective good should prevail over individual gain,” they said.
Plans for a model airstrip at the site were initially raised in February 2022. The airstrip was to be relocated from another area in Ħal Far to make way for a racetrack promised by the government.
Environmental NGOs were not consulted on either project; both were expected to have widespread ecological impacts.
Plans for the racetrack have hit several speedbumps, resulting in a missed November 2022 deadline, later moved by Finance Minister Clyde Caruana to “the end of this administration” in 2027.
The airstrip project has since remained in limbo, with the only proposed site for its relocation raising concerns about adequacy. Several NGOs have protested the project, calling for it to be scrapped entirely.