Outrageous Bidnija ‘sheep farm’ receives €150,000 in EU funding

A huge modern building in the middle of a pristine valley in Bidnija which the planning authority had originally approved as a sheep farm against a tirade of objections has received €150,000 in European Union funding from the Maltese authorities.

The original owner of the alleged sheep farm, Jason Vella of Mgarr, however, does not appear anywhere in the new development as it has already been taken over by a company owned by building architect Konrad Bezzina.

The Ministry of Agriculture approved the huge financial grant and covered 75% of the costs of the project, which is intended to “establish a goat and sheep farm – carrying on the Maltese tradition”.

Approved in 2019 by the PA’s ODZ development commission, headed by the famous Elizabeth Ellul, the permit has been considered extremely abusive since day one. In fact, speculation is rife that the “farmhouse” was merely a disguise and cover for the construction of a luxurious new farmhouse.

The plans submitted at the time clearly indicated the twisting of PA rules and the use of loopholes since the plans Bezzina had submitted gave the immediate impression of a residential villa rather than a breeding place. of sheep.

Less than three years later, and without a single sheep setting its hoof on the farm, the new building is coming to an end and completely spoiling the landscape of the virtually untouched Wied tal-Hzejjen.

The site is now somehow owned by a business entity named Bidnija Farming Enterprise Ltd, which is wholly owned by Bezzina, the architect responsible for the project.

The company created last May to operate the “sheep farm”

Meanwhile, thanks to a new application submitted just a few weeks ago, this time led by notary Peter Bernard Carbonaro, who is a director of Bidnija Farming Enterprise Ltd together with Bezzina, the company has now applied to develop the building into a ‘farmer’s residence’ with a few guest rooms and a mid-level breakfast room, in a clear attempt to offer ‘guest accommodation’ in a rural setting and with stunning views of beautiful scenery.

As expected, the “agricultural” element of the request remained intact in order to continue to take advantage of the Palestinian Authority’s rural policy, which makes it possible to fully exploit these shortcomings.

Farmers who cultivate land in the area told The Shift that the ‘residential’ part of the building, which Bezzina is now trying to get PA approved, is already being used for weekend getaways by the architect and his family. .

A barbecue and dining area are also clearly visible from the exterior of the property.

The terrace of the sheepfold with a dining area and barbecue already used

It is not yet known whether an investigation has been opened by the EU’s agricultural and rural development payments agency, whose payments are monitored locally by the Maltese authorities, into the potential misuse of EU funds. vis-à-vis the project and its end use.

An investigation could also trigger another investigation by the EU’s anti-fraud office, OLAF.

In the meantime, the AP is currently assessing whether to give Bezzina another green light. This latest application has already drawn substantial objections, with many opponents blaming the Palestinian Authority for allowing the architect to circumvent the laws so “blatantly”.

Some opponents even sent the AP sarcastic photos of a roast pig, suggesting the AP and Elizabeth Elllul as the main culprits in the latest “environmental tragedy”.