Planning Authority approval this Thursday of an application to convert a disused explosives factory in Dingli into ten bungalows would be "another planning travesty", Moviment Graffitti said on Tuesday. 

The application, PA 05257/20, is being recommended for approval by the case officer. 

The proposed dwellings will include a pool, car park and management block.

“This application is a shameless attempt to circumvent constraints on ODZ development. If approved, this may well open the door to similar applications in other areas of Malta,”  the NGO said.

“The land in question lies within a Special Area of Conservation due to the high ecological value of the cliff habitat, and it is adjacent to two Special Protection Areas for the conservation of breeding seabirds which would be impacted by light pollution. It is also a scheduled Area of Ecological Importance and Area of High Landscape Value,” it added. 

The group asked whether the site’s ODZ designation stands for something, in view of the various tactics employed by developers to undermine the protection granted to the site.

“The original permit for the factory even included an explicit condition which states that the premises are not to be used or furnished as holiday flats by tourists. The permit was granted on the basis that the hazardous nature of the factory's production required a location away from residential areas,” Graffitti said. 

The group also highlighted 'the devious manner' in which Infrastructure Malta connected the water supply to the disused factory ahead of the planning application, noting that the previous applications in 2017 were rejected on the basis that there were no such services to the site.

“Infrastructure Malta has funnelled public funds to service a private development, ensuring that the developers find one less obstacle in their bid to commercialise an unspoilt area. The applicant herself, Maria Sant, declared in the application that no trenching was required to connect the development to the water distribution network. This amounts to a written confirmation that IM have used public funds to get private developments greenlighted.”

Moviment Graffitti also criticised the Environment and Resources Authority, for having changed its mind about the application after having first objected to it.

“The ERA’s U-turn is clear for everyone to see. The authority first stated that it "does not support the principle that [prior] development should serve as a pretext for committing sites to further development”, however it “noted the current built commitments on site” when making its endorsement. The authority is clearly saying that it is not obliged to act upon its own principles.”

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