The Qala local council will be filing an appeal against a Planning Authority decision in favour of the construction of a villa on rural land in the locality.
“This project will have a detrimental impact on the environment. When we have come together as a council and a community in the past, we have managed to overcome projects like this,” Qala mayor Paul Buttigieg said.
The PA on Thursday rejected a recommendation against the project and instead gave it the green light, a decision which was condemned by environmental groups, but not only.
Gozitan construction magnate Joseph Portelli filed an application to turn a 31-square-metre rural room in the countryside surrounding Qala – in an Outside Development Zone – into a large villa and outside space covering 4,000 square metres of agricultural land.
Former Labour Prime Minister Alfred Sant has demanded an explanation on what led to the decision, saying that unless this is done his suspicious on the project will grow.
Former PL general secretary Jason Micallef also took to Facebook to express his dismay.
“What a disgrace. Shameless! This government and the absolute majority that elected it deserves better than this. These atrocities must stop before it becomes too late,” he wrote.
He said the internal structures of the Labour Party had to lobby the government against such “strange” decisions.
“If this does not happen, then the PL itself will be allowing great harm to be done to this Labour government,” he said.
Labour MEP candidate Cyrus Engerer said he was four square behind the Qala council. “Today’s decision by the Planning Authority’s board is shocking and unacceptable,” he wrote.
“I have no problem with development in our urban areas. Mr. Portelli’s Mercury tower will enhance Paceville and St. Julian’s, but ruining Qala’s landscape and fields is something which cannot be taken lightly.
“How could anyone vote for this project? How could the Labour Party ask it’s representative to vote in favour?”
The government appointed representative, Clayton Bartolo, was among those who voted in favour. He was joined by PA Board members Elizabeth Ellul, Duncan Mifsud, Jacqueline Gili, Joseph Brincat, Karl Attard and Alfred Pule.
PA chairman Vincent Cassar, Opposition MP Marthese Portelli, ERA chairman Victor Axiaq and NGO representative Annick Bonello Cassar, all voted against.
The Curia’s Environment Commission also appealed to the Environment and Resources Authority to challenge the decision taken which, it said, hurt all those who had the protection of the Maltese countryside at heart.
The Nationalist Party described the decision as “scandalous and obscene” and sealed the legacy of the government as one which destroys the natural environment and brings to nothing laws enacted to safeguard the environment.