Cultural centers

Environmental and cultural heritage watchdogs oppose Wied Ghasri ‘poultry farm’

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH) have reported significant concerns over a planning application to build a ‘poultry farm’ on agricultural land outside the area development of Wied Għasri in Gozo.

The proposed poultry farm, which would occupy an area of ​​around 660m² in an otherwise undeveloped area of ​​high landscape value, is “environmentally objectionable”, according to ERA.

“The ERA is very concerned about proposals for farms in open countryside, as the approval of such a development would likely lead to additional pressure for similar developments in this rural ODZ (outer development zone),” says the ERA. ERA.

The SCH, while pointing to similar environmental concerns, also pointed to the fact that the proposed site is only 225m from the Chapel of the Patronage of the Virgin and an adjacent small hamlet, and only 140m from a tomb located to the south.

“Given the culturally sensitive context described above, the Superintendence immediately expresses its concern over the proposed development, which consists of a poultry farm with ancillary facilities,” reads the response to the SCH consultation.

“The Superintendency notes with concern that the proposed development is excessive in this culturally important area,” it adds, further describing the proposed development as “incompatible” with the surrounding rural landscape.

Five residents with property in the surrounding area, along with a company named Gozo Farmhouses Ltd, have also filed an extensive joint objection, one of dozens that have been filed so far before the close of the public comment phase of application on February 1.

The submission even includes visual renderings of long-distance photomontages that should have been submitted by the claimant’s architect, with opponents pointing out how the proposed building height of 4.33m “would not fit the rural context” and “would not maintain not the visual integrity of the area”.

A photomontage of the proposed poultry farm, as submitted by residents in their objections.

The common objection highlighted investments in properties intended to be let out for holiday purposes, a practice “established for many years”.

“The establishment of a chicken farm very close to these residences would mean the cessation of this industry, due to the foul odors, the hours of operation, the noise of the machinery and the chickens themselves,” reads the statement. objection, all opponents reserving their rights against both. the applicant and the planning authority (PA) itself “in the event of a decision being taken that is detrimental to this industry”.

In an article published three weeks ago, The Shift already highlighted several violations of environmental protection laws that the proposal involves, with residents’ objection pointing to the fact that the applicant, Louis Cauchi, is not officially registered as a poultry farmer.

The objection also highlights the applicants’ unconfirmed suspicions that Cauchi is not the real owner of the land, which means that Cauchi may have misrepresented ownership. The requester could not be reached for comment.

In addition to violating several rural objectives of the Palestinian Authority’s Environment and Development Strategic Plan, such as the need to protect good quality agricultural land and the need for development suited to its environment, the proposal violates also the guidelines of the Local Plan.

Wied Għasri is considered to be protected land given its classification as an area of ​​high landscape value, category A valley and land of agricultural value. A natural spring located 100m from the site could also potentially be affected by any runoff from the proposed poultry farm.

Opponents also reported issues with how vehicles could enter and exit the site, as they would have to request third-party road access, as well as an exacerbation of parking and traffic issues. on the road.