A Gozitan farmer wants to turn a pristine landscape into a mega sheep farm

A Gozitan farmer known to be close to Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri is asking the Planning Authority for permission to turn one of Gozo’s remaining green lungs into a full fledged industrial sheep farm, covering the size of more than two soccer fields.

The proposal – made by Lawrence Cassar and architect Alexander Bigeni, a former consultant and relative of the Gozo minister – is to transform the pristine landscape separating Victoria from the village of Sannat into a huge sheep farm of industrial proportions.

The proposal, which had already been made in 2016 and withdrawn after resistance met by the AP, includes the demolition of a small rural chamber, illegally built and currently under execution warrant, a 1,400 square meter factory built for to house the sheep and the processes for making their by-products, including cheeselets (ġbejniet), and ample space for other related activities.

The candidacy, which is expected to be determined by the PA next week, has met with opposition from numerous NGOs, including Wirt Ghawdex and Din l-Art Helwa. It is also contested by the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), the Superintendency of Cultural Heritage and the Agricultural Advisory Board.

Described as a “prohibited” app, as it goes against several current policies, the Palestinian Authority offers the denial proposal. However, in the last session, the AP had given the architect time to consult with his client and come up with new plans.

Despite some later changes, the Palestinian Authority still finds the demand for development totally objectionable.

Sources close to the AP told The Shift it was not the first time Cassar had made the offer as a farmer, with one being recorded as having only 80 ruminants. The real objective for years, it is claimed, however, has been to develop the pristine agricultural area of ​​high landscape value.

“His last attempt was in 2017, in the run up to the election, because he thought he could pull it off with some political maneuvering. When that backfired, he tried again – this time using a Gozitan architect well-connected with the powers that be. Yet his proposal is a failure,” the sources said.

In its objections, ERA pointed out that the development would entail the occupation of ODZ land, the introduction of new large-scale development as well as other physical interventions, including the creation of new access and negative impacts on the rural character of the area.

The Authority told the AP that approving the development, along with other developments in the area, would contribute to the further occupation of undeveloped rural land and the sprawl of built structures. This in turn would lead to the proliferation of built development in rural areas and its impacts on the rural characteristics of the area.

In recent years, developers who have expanded large swathes of land across Malta have turned their gaze to the once tranquil sister island of Gozo.

Through various applications, mainly led by Nadur construction magnate Joseph Portelli, the PA has enabled Gozo to be transformed into another construction zone, with large sporadic blocks being erected in once sleepy villages known for their traditional frameworks and their traditional characteristics.