A proposal to have a fully-fledged motorsport racetrack without taking up virgin land has not been accepted by the government, as the latter is insisting on developing the earmarked site in Ħal Far for industrial purposes.
Unveiled last April by architectural firm Periti Studio in collaboration with the Malta Motorsport Federation (MMF), the project consisted of a 3.1-kilometre racetrack in conformity with international racing standards.
Located next to the drag racing facility in Ħal-Far, the proposed motorsport complex is spread over an area of 150 tumoli (16.68 hectares) and includes a road safety facility for a 900m karting track.
Last year, the promoters of the project had approached the government with their proposal in the wake of the latter’s political commitment for the construction of a racetrack in the 2017 general election manifesto, albeit in Ta’ Qali.
Though they were fully aware that the Ħal Far site was designated for industrial development, the promoters believed the government should give weight to their proposal as this would be less detrimental to the environment.
While appreciating that the proposal required a commitment of 85 tumoli of undeveloped industrial land, they insisted that the Ħal Far Industrial Estate has the residual capacity to absorb the proposed facility while leaving room for further industrial growth.
Moreover, they had argued that a racetrack within the Ħal Far industrial estate would probably be environmentally sustainable while an equivalent project elsewhere on the island would require a huge take-up of land outside development zone (ODZ).
However, the prospect of a Ħal Far racetrack is all but gone as their appeal has fallen on deaf ears.
It transpires that works are underway on the construction of a light industrial plant for BDI International Group Ltd, right in the middle the proposed track. Moreover, the Planning Authority has also issued a permit for a pharmaceutical warehouse for Kuehne + Nagel Limited, while an application for a warehouse is pending.
All of these developments are within the proposed footprint of the racetrack.
“Our proposal for a racetrack in Ħal Far is in line with the government’s declared vision for environmental sustainability. It is very disappointing that the only viable site within a development zone has been lost to recent industrial growth,” Nicholas Mallia, from Periti Studio told Times of Malta.
Questions sent to the Parliamentary Secretary for Sport Clifton Grima were not answered by the time of writing.
In its 2017 manifesto, the Labour Party promised a racetrack in Ta’ Qali. This idea had prompted fierce objections from nearby residents due to noise pollution, as well as the Assoċjazzjoni Sport Muturi u Karozzi which feared its existing motocross track would have to make way.