The lease by the Lands Authority of an agricultural site outside development zone in Mellieħa for the setting up of a bee-keeping facility has irked residents who wrote a legal letter to the authority in a bid to stop the process.

The group of residents wrote to the Lands Authority’s chairman to object to a tender for the lease of the cliff-edge land in Triq l-Għerien against a €9,000 annual rent for 15 years.

They said the site was scheduled since it was protected as an archaeological site and site of ecological importance. The site is sensitive and delicate, unsuitable for such purpose, and situated in a residential area, they added.

Through their lawyer, Patrick Valentino, the residents said that the number of bees required to cover the cost of the lease and other operational costs and make it feasible would be “phenomenal”.

Apart from this, the bee-keeping facility would also lead to the development of virgin land, to their detriment and that of the environment. They said they are seeing this as a first step for the site to be developed.

They also remarked that the land itself, located on a cliff edge, did not appear to be suitable for beekeeping, according to experts they had consulted.

The residents said they were ready to take legal action in a bid to safeguard their interests against the Lands Authority tender, adding that it was “evident” that the tender was issued to the advantage of some third party who, with the excuse of beekeeping, could eventually develop virgin, pristine land of ecological importance.

Economy and Industry Minister Silvio Schembri was also sent a copy of the legal letter.

Meanwhile, Nationalist MP Robert Cutajar on Wednesday tabled in Parliament a petition signed by over 100 residents who are all objecting to the tender to lease the land in question. 

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