From sheep to goats – Gozo’s ‘suspicious’ farms rise to 633

Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.

The number of sheep and goat farms in Gozo has increased by seven to 633 over the last year, an impressive number considering the island is less than 67 square kilometres and home to under 40,000 residents.

Figures tabled in parliament on Tuesday by Agriculture Minister Anton Refalo show that the small island of Gozo is home to 392 sheep farms and 241 goat farms.

Both environmental and farmers’ NGOs have previously commented to The Shift about such applications, noting that they are “suspicious” and often used as an excuse to build residences on land outside development zones, lamenting lax regulations.

The latest figures, tabled following a parliamentary question by opposition MP Chris Said, show that almost 4,400 sheep and 1,600 goats are officially registered to these farms.

When compared to figures tabled in response to the same question last year, 11 sheep farms were removed from the registry, while 18 goat farms were added.

The official figures average out to about 11 sheep and seven goats per respective farm. Nadur had the most sheep farms, with 67, while Xewkija had the largest number of goat farms, with 47.

One architect, Gozitan Alexander Bigeni, is behind almost two-thirds of all new applications for Gozitan sheep farms in recent years. A total of 16 applications have been submitted to the Planning Authority since June 2022.

In comments to The Shift last month, NGO Għaqda Bdiewa Attivi President Malcolm Borg had called the situation “ridiculous,” noting that applicants “are advised by their architects to apply this way to obtain a permit on ODZ land.”

He had noted a three-storey building in Bidnija constructed under the guise of a sheep farm despite public outcry. Such applications have been submitted by property developers and manufacturers with no known relation to farming.

Earlier this month, the Ombudsman Environment Commissioner Alan Saliba launched an investigation into the potential abuse of development permits granted for horse stables.

Through regulatory loopholes similar to those suspected to be used in false sheep and goat farm applications, landowners have been found to have faked their ownership of horses through various means to obtain permits.


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1 month ago

Sheep and goat farms for the greedy sheep and goats.

1 month ago

Shit for a minute I thought you were speaking about the electorate 😂😂😂🤣🤣

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