Proposed eco-spa at Dingli Cliffs in conflict with surrounding area says ERA

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for an outline permit which proposes to the demolition of existing licensed explosives factory and re-develop it into an eco-spa and resort in Dingli was published, with the public invited to give feedback until 7 January.

The Environment and Resource Authority objected against development since it is considered as being in direct conflict with the effective conservation of the surrounding area. The EIA notes that the impacts of the development on the protected sites are likely to be significant when considering the project seeks to introduce a commercial development within a particularly sensitive natural area. It also notes that the proposal would introduce a change in land-use and potentially drive further intensification of use of the area, with consequent indirect implications on the site.

The proposed development has a site area of 6,275 squared meters and a gross floor area exceeding 10,000 squared metres. The development lies outside the development zone and is located within a scheduled area and a protected Natura 2000 site. This means that one of the expected major negative impact is the loss of area scheduled for habitats of EU importance within the Natura 2000 site. Other negative impact which is expected is potential encroachment which would have an adverse impact on garigue areas and associated protected species.

The cumulative built up area is at present of about 1,645 metres squared. The proposed development according to the Environmental Impact Assessment will consist of five levels with the maximum height will be about 1.8m above the current height of the existing building and will be only limited to ten units at the back end of the proposed development.

In total the outline permit proposes 64 parking spaces spread over level -2 and level -3 while the reception area, a restaurant, bar, kitchen, offices, gym, spa and the associated facilities of the pool will be at level -1. The first seven separate accommodation units will be also on level -1 as well as a terrace. 22 accommodation units are being proposed for level 0 along with another outdoor swimming pool and deck area. Five rooms are proposed for the top floor including another terrace as well as four sets of PV panels. In total, if it goes through, the new eco-resort would accommodate 69 guests in 34 rooms.

The developers behind the outline permit are La Toc Hotels Ltd, who filed an outline permit application on 1 June 2017, two days before the snap general election. La Toc Ltd started off in 2014 and operates La Falconeria Hotel in Valletta.  According to the project development statement, the developers are seeking to develop the abandoned site into a resort to target upper bracket high-spending group of tourists and tourists.

The Environment and Resource Authority (ERA) had already voiced its concern about the project and stated that no development works should take place within a sensitive area.

Given the proposed development lies in a Natura 2000 site and a scheduled area, it required both an Environmental Impact Assessment and an Appropriate Assessment. After the terms of references were published, the assessments were carried out, with ERA now accepting feedback on the published documents until  7 January 2019.

Site history

The Pulvitch Explosives Factory was used for a number of years where explosives used in the quarry industry were manufactured on demand. After the factory was abandoned the applications which were submitted afterwards were all refused by the Authority.

One may submit their feedback on the EIA report by sending an email on eia.malta@era.org.mt.