Robert Abela promised on Thursday the government would amend 2006 local plans to protect agricultural land around the Bulebel Industrial Estate from future development.

Addressing party supporters in Marsaxlokk, the Prime Minister said that just like the government was amending local plans to protect Ħondoq ir-Rummien Bay and Marsascala, it was similarly planning to protect rural land in the Żejtun industrial area.

Abela's promise comes two months after community activist group Wirt iż-Żejtun asked the government to amend the local plans for the area.

Land around the industrial estate had been earmarked for expansion in the 1980s. It retained that designation when planners updated local plans in 2006.

In 2010 the land was placed under the responsibility of Malta Industrial Parks (now INDIS) and in late 2015 farmers in the Wied iż-Żrinġ area received eviction notices, giving them one month to vacate their land.

The notices sparked public uproar and a years-long battle by Żejtun residents and activists to drop the plan.

In 2018, the government dropped plans to vacate the land and a meeting of parliament’s environment and planning committee called for the amendment of the area’s local plan.

However, that recommendation was never followed through.

On Thursday Abela recalled "the controversy a few years ago" when the government wanted to extend the industrial area.

"Back then, Wirt iż-Żejtun had spoken up and kicked off a discussion on whether the country wanted to favour the industry over the environment.

"For us the environment is a priority... and I can today confirm that the local plan for the Bulebel area will be modified to ensure once and for all that no development will happen to the detriment of agricultural land," he said.

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