With the first phase of the new Ta’ Kandja shooting ranging nearing completion, it is still unclear if the rest of the site currently used as a police academy  will eventually be taken over and incorporated in the sporting venue.

“It is not my duty to give any guarantees, but the only guarantee I can give is that we will not take over the academy. This is not the case. The idea is to use a large tract of unused land to host international events,” Parliamentary Secretary for Sport Clifton Grima said when asked if the last remaining part of the academy would be taken over. 

Dr Grima was on an on-site visit to the venue on Wednesday, which will be hosting the Shooting World Cup in two months.

The police and Home Affairs Ministry were not present at the event despite the project being within the perimeter of police-owned land. The development application itself was submitted by the Police Commissioner. 

Doubts on the future of the police academy at Ta’ Kandja have been raised in view of the large scale facilities under construction.

Covering an area equivalent to the size of 26 football pitches, the shooting range was initially estimated to cost €7 million, but according to figures given by the parliamentary secretary, the bill for the first phase alone has soared to €10 million.

The idea is to use a tract of unused land for international events

Last February, the Times of Malta reported that policemen feared that they would lose out to sportsmen as a result of political commitments made by the Labour Party. In its 2017 general election manifesto the PL had promised a shooting range facility.

Read: Police may lose out to sportsmen at Ta’ Kandja shooting range

Questions have also been raised as to who will be administering the facility. Dr Grima confirmed that State entity Sport Malta will be managing the shooting range, despite being on the police academy grounds. He said SportMalta will be under the direction of a committee, which will include representatives from the police force.

Concerns were also raised over the proximity of the facility to the airport, which is just 500 metres away. Despite repeated requests, the government has refused to publish the ballistic studies carried out.

At Wednesday's event it was pointed out that, according to the unpublished studies, there would be no risk to passing aircraft from the lead pellets used for trap, double-trap and skeet competitions. Moreover, a 20-metre protective mesh has been installed around the range, which will be used for the World Cup.

The structure, which has a significant visual impact from a distance, will be retractable.

Dr Grima said the second phase of the project, for which no completion date has been set, would comprise training facilities for the police. However, ballistic and acoustic studies are only being carried out now.

On the other hand, he pointed out that there are already two such facilities within the Ta’ Kandja police academy.

Sources told the Times of Malta that these ranges are only used for small firearms such as Glock pistols and are located within a disused quarry in order to minimise sound pollution and the risk of stray bullets.

Rifle training and sniping are not carried out at Ta’ Kandja but at the army shooting range in Pembroke, they said.

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