Sheep farm application coincides with applicant’s son contesting local council elections

An application submission to turn public ODZ farmland in Xewkija into a sprawling ‘sheep farm’ coincided with the developer’s son contesting the Munxar local councils’ election on behalf of Labour.

Over the past 20 years, 70-year-old Lawrence Cassar’s attempts to develop his arable land into a more lucrative business have been repeatedly refused. The latest application filed by Cassar is to demolish an illegal room he built several years ago and instead turn the area, the size of more than two football pitches, into a sheep farm to make cheeselets.

Cassar has a long history of trying to turn this idyllic countryside in Triq is-Sannat, in Xewkija, into a profitable enterprise.

Among the applications refused are those for greenhouses in 2000 and 2010 and two attempts for a sheep farm, the last of which was submitted in 2022. The applications were always summarily rejected as they breached planning and environmental policies.

Just a few weeks ago, Cassar presented a fresh, identical application through the notorious Gozitan architect Alex Bigeni, a former consultant and relative of Planning Minister Clint Camilleri.

Cassar’s most recent application coincided with his son, John Cassar, running for the local council election in Munxar with the Labour Party.

John Cassar (in red circle) accompanying Robert Abela in Munxar a few weeks ago.

The applicant’s colleagues in the farming industry, who spoke to The Shift, said that Lawrence Cassar is now confident that his son’s election to the local council of Munxar will bring him closer to the key decision-makers and that his application could be approved this time.

A close acquaintance of Cassar told The Shift that Lawrence Cassar is openly stating that he will make it this time, as the permit was promised to his son before the election.

The developer’s son was the only Labour candidate elected on behalf of Labour in Munxar. The locality has a PN majority.

John Cassar is very well connected to the Gozo Ministry, which is controlled by the planning minister. Cassar’s long-time partner is Vicky Xuereb, the Director General of the same Ministry. Clint Camilleri saved her from suspension after she was arraigned in court last year and accused of the involuntary homicide of a Gozitan government employee who was working in Dwejra.

Instead of suspending her as per civil service rules, the Gozo ministry’s permanent secretary, John Borg, obtained a special derogation from the Public Service Commission to keep Xuereb in her job as the ministry did not consider the criminal accusations against her to be serious.

So far, the Environment and Resource Authority (ERA) has already objected to Lawrence Cassar and Alex Bigeni’s latest attempt to develop a new sheep farm and described the application as yet another attempt to develop the same site in the same manner, which has already been refused.

In recent years, the policy allowing illegal agricultural developments to be turned into sheep and goat farms has become extremely popular in Gozo.

On an island with less than 40,000 inhabitants and a surface area of 67 square kilometres, there are currently 633 farms for sheep and goats.

Environmental NGOs have publicly criticised this policy and warned that the law is being abused to turn land Outside the Development Zone into residences.

The Planning Authority is receiving objections to PA03056/24 until the end of the month before it starts compiling its recommendation.

                           

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Toni Borg
Toni Borg
27 days ago

Instead of sheep farms why don’t they build pig farms to perhaps accommodate all the labour PIGS pigging through corruption, permits in ODZ areas, promotions, consultancy jobs, persons of trust…..and the list goes on and on!!!

Noel Ciantar
Noel Ciantar
27 days ago

With this rate of sheep farm development, Gozo is going to beat New Zealand as the place with a bigger population of sheep than human inhabitants.

And did you hear the last one about the Gozo sheep farmer?

S. Camilleri
S. Camilleri
27 days ago

This Bigeni seems to be Gozo’s Musumeci. Gozo is mired in sleaze and in deep sheep shit. And the Gozo Monsters (sorry, meant Ministers) are the architects of the whole messy swamp.

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