Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia has demanded to know why an ecologically important valley has been left out of a list of sites protected from unsustainable development, commercialisation and environmental destruction.
Wied Għomor, known as the only green lung between Swieqi and San Ġwann, is among several sites that have not been given public domain status. A Planning Authority spokesperson said the valley was excluded upon the advice of the Attorney General because only 26.8 per cent of the site is under government ownership, according to information obtained from the Lands Authority.
But Farrugia has asked the PA and the Environment Resources Authority for a briefing on the matter because the decision appears to have been taken at a time when he was not responsible for the sector.
Wied Għomor, already a scheduled area of ecological and scientific importance, is under siege from an unprecedented barrage of applications for new development. Councils of localities through which the valley runs are stretching their resources to the limit in their efforts to preserve it.
In 2017, former environment minister José Herrera had specifically requested that the valley, along with Indawar Nature Park near Żonqor Point, be included in the list of protected sites under the Public Domain Act.
When contacted, Herrera said he was “somewhat disappointed” that Wied Għomor had been excluded.
His interpretation of the law, which he helped draft, was that a site is declared public domain without prejudice to private and third-party rights, he explained. These owners would have the legal right to register their title within 10 years.
“Once this process is done, the privately owned land will not be affected. It is difficult to find territory which does not include private land and therefore if we are too rigid, the law can become a dead letter,” Herrera said.