PA approves solar farm between Freeport and Fort Bengħajsa

The Planning Authority has unanimously approved the setting up of a solar farm sandwiched between the Freeport and a British-era fortification. Gasco Energy Limited was on Thursday given a permit to install panels over 6,500 square metres, an area that is slightly larger than a football pitch. The company, a joint venture between Multigas Limited and Liquigas, will develop the solar farm on land adjacent to an LPG filling facility it owns and operates.

Although the Birzebbuga site is on arable land, the Environmental Resource Authority did not object to the development because the LPG filling facility beside the location prevents any agriculture from taking place. Should the LPG site be decommissioned, the area should return to its previous state, Planning Board members agreed. The soil currently at the site will be kept on site and levelled in preparation for the panels.

These will be propped up on pre-cast concrete blocks that will be dug into the soil. In consultations, the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage expressed concern about the solar farm's proximity to Fort Benghajsa. However, it gave the green light after the plan was revised to allow an adequate buffer between the farm and the Grade 1 protected fort.

The Superintendence pointed out that the site is in an archaeologically sensitive area and that plans might have to be amended if discoveries are made.