The Ħotba Ta’ Gaba is a stretch of public land located at the tip of Wardija Hill and was passed over to the Government of Malta by the British Services. This site used to house gun emplacements during the colonial period because of the commanding position it holds over the bay of St Paul. In fact the panorama from the site is magnificent, spanning from Xemxija Bay to St Pauls Islands to the Mosta fort on the ridge and beyond. The area of the site is about 10 tumoli, all of which is garigue and maquis. No crops could possibly be harvested from this site, yet it was leased by the Lands Department for agricultural purposes. Actually it was used for hunting and bird trapping as the existence of hides and traps shows. Spent cartridges litter the place.
A number of Private – No Entry signs have been raised in order to block public access to this land. Recently some low rubble walls were erected around two small areas measuring a few square metres and soil has been put in. A number of vegetables were planted as a pretence that the site was being used for agricultural purposes . Members who have rambled over this area over the past 50 years confirm there was never any sign of people working the land or laying claim to this property.
Due to the site’s panoramic beauty, and it being part of national heritage, RAM is asking for the termination of the lease so that it may be enjoyed by the public not by the few. In addition, there cannot be any question of a livelihood from this land.
Further investigation by the Association has revealed that the lease holder has applied with MEPA to build a toolshed, on public land, which application was refused by the MEPA Board. When this individual appealed the decision, he also submitted a report, authored by ADI Associates, indicating how the site was to be used for organic farming purposes. Based on this report, the Appeals Board decided to overturn the MEPA Board decision. The Association believes that a number of claims made in this report in order to support the appeal cannot be substantiated. MEPA has now taken the case to Court as the Appeals Board accepted substantial revisions to the original submitted plans at the Appeals stage, which is contrary to standard planning procedure.
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