An application to build a mushroom farm on 15,000 square metres of agricultural land outside scheme has raised the hackles of the Għarb local council and residents.

Two years ago, an application was filed to build a mushroom farm at Ta' Dbiegi in an outside development zone area.

However, the Għarb local council objected on the grounds that this project would negatively affect the area.

Mayor David Apap pointed out that the "mushroom cultivation unit" would be very close to the residents and eat out a large chunk of the greenery.

Among other things, the local council objected to the project because the farm would be adjacent to a residential area, the local crafts village and the nearby five-star hotel. In fact, several residents have contacted the council to complain, he said.

The project will involve the manufacture of the mushroom substrate on site to minimise the running costs and would need 22 tons of chicken manure and 42 tons of straw a week.

This would create an offensive smell that would disturb everyone around the farm, the mayor said.

The council also objected to the proposal that the access to the site would be through the crafts village, which would negatively affect the site's tourism.

In fact, the planning authority's Natural Heritage Panel had also pointed out that the project would generate smells, especially when fresh manure would be transported there.

"These odours could have a negative effect on the nearby tourist-oriented Ta' Dbiegi Crafts Village and residential units. The total elimination of these risks is well-nigh impossible," the committee said.

It also said the project would have a major impact on the environment because it would take up a large amount of agricultural land within an area of agricultural value identified in the Gozo and Comino local plan.

Similarly, the issue of access to the site needed to be resolved, it said.

The panel called for the plans to be revised and resubmitted before any "further assessment of the development application".