New softstone quarry

Date : 2001

The area under investigation was located in the north-western part of Gozo, and included the village of Għarb and the hamlet of Għammar. Various erosion processes have modified the landscape into a number of mesa landforms and contiguous plains. These have been extensively dissected by one of the major dry valley systems on the island, namely that of Wied Il-Mielaħ.

The agrarian character of the site covered by the development application.

The proposed development involved the mineral extraction of softstone, the traditional main building dimension stone of the Maltese Islands. Quarrying in the area had ceased several years earlier as the industry shifted to Dwejra, a highly environmentally sensitive locality. The study area of the Environmental Planning Statement was set at 1km diameter centering on the proposed site.

Close-up showing the site, disused quarries and construction related to their mineral extraction.

The most widespread land-use within the study area was dry agriculture. The morphology of the valley itself had been considerably modified by such activity. The valley sides had been transformed into successive levels of terraced fields. As one moved up-slope, the size of the fields gradually increased, roughly in proportion to the intensity of actual agrarian activity. A number of small plots of land, particularly those situated on parts of the valley slopes with relatively steep contours, had been left fallow and were, at the time of study, in a state of abandonment.

Another characteristic of the area was the relatively large number of disused softstone quarries. In fact the landfill at Tal-Ksajjem was one such quarry which had recently been reutilised for the tipping of inert waste.

Built-in ramps along contours.

The proposed site formed part of an extensive agricultural tract, located on the promontory that divides the two main tributaries of the Wied Il-Mielaħ system and is situated adjacent to several disused quarries. Many of these quarries, given the combination of protection that quarries tend to provide against weather and their inherent capability to retain the warmth generated by solar radiation, had been reclaimed back to agriculture mainly as fruit orchards.

Click here to download the Environmental Planning Statement.