The Malta Independent 19 June 2019, Wednesday

Application to turn disused quarry into shooting range to be discussed

Kevin Schembri Orland Saturday, 8 June 2019, 09:09 Last update: about 11 days ago

The Planning authority Board will on Thursday decide on an application to turn a ‘disused quarry’ into a shooting range in Siggiewi, an application which the Planning Directorate has recommended that the board refuse.

This outline development application proposes the construction of a shooting range facility which includes an administration car park catering for 13 car spaces, another visitor’s car park catering for 60 car spaces,  4 shooting bays, another structure incorporating a gun room, clubhouse, reception area, WCs, class room and an outdoor area with table.

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The proposal site is located outside the development zone (ODZ), in the limits of Siggiewi, in an area known as ‘Il-Bur tal-Għaqba’. From photos submitted and aerial photos, the majority of the quarry has being backfilled and is being used for agricultural purposes, the case officer’s report read.

“The site is predominantly surrounded by agricultural land and quarries.”

The case officer argues that according to a policy, a first preference favourably considers the rehabilitation and reversion back to agriculture purposes of quarries in Mqabba, Siggiewi and Kirkop once these became in disuse. “From photos submitted and aerial photos, the majority of the quarry has being backfilled and being used for agricultural purposes.”

“In view of the above, and considering that the proposed development implies the reversion of the ecological succession which took place during the past years through the excavation of considerable volume of material which has already been used for the restoration of quarry, the proposal cannot be favourably recommended. Moreover, both Rural Objective 1 of the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development (SPED), 2015 and the Rural Policy and Design Guidance, 2014 objectives prohibits any form of urbanization outside development areas unless to sustain agricultural activities. Thus the proposal cannot be favourably recommended.”

The case officer also notes that the proposal should also be assessed in line with the Inert Waste Disposal in Quarries document, the Code of Practice for Quarry Working and Restoration document and the Waste Management Plan for the Maltese Island document.

“ Both the Inert Waste Disposal in Quarries document and the Code of Practice for Quarry Working and Restoration document sets out the standards of good practice to be employed especially during the operations of mineral extraction and subsequent restoration of quarries either through recycling and/or backfilling in order to return site to its original state. This has nowadays been enhanced through the formalization and implementation of the Waste Management Plan for the Maltese Islands projecting national interventions to achieve the 2020 targets. In fact as outlined in the latter document, backfilling spent quarries, together with recycling recyclable Construction and demolition  waste should aid Malta to achieve its 2020 target of recovering 70% of inert construction and demolition waste. In view that the proposal involves considerable excavation of material already used for the restoration of quarry and the national issue related to lack of space for the disposal of inert waste together with the targets set in the Waste Management Plan, location and Local Plan designation of site, the proposed development prejudices the national objective thus considered premature and cannot be favourably considered.”

Another issue raised by the case officer is that the proposal may compromise the Planning Authority’s ability to undergo policy review which is still underway, thus the proposal may be considered premature.

In his conclusion, the case officer writes: “The proposed shooting range facility is located within a partly backfilled quarry which by time it evolved and adopted an agricultural setting, thus counter to Thematic Objective 1.10, Rural Objectives 1, 3 and 4 of the Strategic Plan or Environment and Development, 2015 and the Rural Policy and Design Guidance, 2014 objectives. The proposed development runs counter to the South Malta Local Plan Policy and would also prejudice the national waste management objective in view of the national issue related to the lack of space for the disposal of inert waste. In addition, proposed development lacks the necessary information to enable further assessment in terms of environment, transport requirements, tourism compliance, police license and legality of quarry extent. A refusal is therefore being recommended.”

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