The development of a miniature airstrip for model aircraft in Ħal Far still threatens Wied Żnuber, despite Robert Abela's ruling out of any development in the valley, NGOs are warning.
On Thursday the Prime Minister, a candidate on the fifth electoral district, said "there will be no development in Wied Żnuber”.
However, the airstrip is being planned for a stretch of land off Wied Żnuber, right next to a Natura 2000 site and a nesting ground for vulnerable seabirds that are sensitive to sound and light. The area is situated between a strip of factories and cliffs that are home to colonies of shearwaters and seagulls.
Following comments by Abela on Wednesday, Għaqda Storja u Kultura Birżebbuġa and Moviment Graffitti separately called on the PL leader to categorically declare that the airstrip will not be built there.
"The threat to Wied Żnuber will remain until plans for the airstrip are withdrawn. The plans are a result of an agreement between the government agency INDIS and the Ħal Far Model Flying Association," the Birżebbuġa NGO said.
"We, therefore, call on the Prime Minister to put at rest the mind of Birżebbuġa residents and all those who have the environment - particularly Wied Żnuber - at heart, to categorically declare that this airstrip will not be built on the planned site."
Reacting to Abela's statement, Moviment Graffitti meanwhile said the declaration did not mean much as the airstrip was being planned for an area next to, and not in the valley.
"Despite being planned for a site that has been designated as an industrial zone, the project is being planned to take place on virgin land with an ecological, agricultural and historical importance. Additionally, the project will also impact the surroundings - including the valley and cliffs - with continuous light and noise pollution," the activist NGO said on Facebook.
The alarm about the airstrip was initially raised by a group of farmers with Times of Malta.
The Environment and Resources Authority had told Times of Malta that it had not received any application for a model airstrip next to the protected land.
Despite several reminders, questions sent by Times of Malta to the Planning Authority, the Education Ministry and the Economy Ministry have gone unanswered.
A Save Wied Żnuber walk is being organised this Saturday.