The Malta Independent 15 October 2021, Friday

Cultural heritage watchdog objects to proposed solar farm near Mgarr temples

Monday, 20 September 2021, 13:03 Last update: about 25 days ago

The cultural heritage watchdog has objected to a proposed solar farm in Mgarr, saying the development could damage archaeological remains in the area.

The application in question is for the development of a solar farm on an area of 38 tumoli of arable land – the size of six football pitches – and which has unique features of the Maltese rural landscape, such as rubble walls, carob trees, garigue, protected flora and fauna, bee colonies and archaeological remains dating back to the Romans. 

It lies close to the Ta’ Hagrat archaeological site. The application has already drawn concern from Heritage Malta and Moviment Graffitti, and hundreds of objections have been filed.

The latest objection was filed by the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage on Monday.

It noted that the proposed development covers an extensive site on ODZ land.

The area is of considerable archaeological sensitivity as evidenced by its inclusion within Mgarr Area of Archaeological Importance, which includes the World Heritage Sites of Ta’ Ħaġrat and Skorba.

“The Superintendence, along with the Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee (CHAC) notes with concern that the proposal will inevitably negatively affect the perception of the cultural landscape. The Superintendence further notes that the proposed location is incompatible with the cultural and scenic value of the area. Notwithstanding the proposal’s evident negative visual impact, any ground disturbance in this area, such as for the reservoir and the extensive trenching required for connectivity between the solar panels and the substation and from substation to the national grid may also impact directly on archaeological remains. Such interventions are not considered acceptable within an area specifically scheduled to safeguard archaeological remains and their context,” the SHC said.

“In view of the site’s location within Mgarr AAI, which forms parts of the buffer zones established to protect the World Heritage Sites of Ta’ Ħaġrat and Skorba, this development application has also been referred to Heritage Malta as the state agency responsible at law for the management of the above-mentioned sites. Heritage Malta noted that the proposed development may increase the risk of flooding at Ta’ Ħaġrat due increased rainwater run off resulting from the extensive soil-cover associated with the proposed greenhouses.”

The Superintendence said it considers that the intensification of development as proposed, Outside Development Zone, and within an archaeologically sensitive area is objectionable in principle. It objected to the application.

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