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MALTATODAY 29 January 2023

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4 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 29 JANUARY 2023 NEWS JAMES DEBONO AN outsize electricity distribu- tion centre is slated to be built on the Naxxar land once ear- marked for a community 'village' for disabled. The 2,000sq.m metre distribu- tion centre for three transform- ers, will be built on part of the larger site once earmarked for the disability hub – currently lying in a derelict state with an 11,000sq.m portion of land exca- vated and abandoned. Government sources made it clear that the Enemalta distri- bution centre is not meant to replace any part of the proposed community village, but that Naxxar requires the additional power set-up. Naxxar, Għargħur and Iklin rely on a distribution centre in Mosta for its energy. But in- creased development in the area, not least with the massive pro- jects planned at the former trade fair area, have applied even more demographic pressure to these towns. The three-transformer centre is required to relieve the pres- sure on the grid as these locali- ties face an increased likelihood of power cuts. Sources close to Enemalta described the situation as "precarious". "Although Malta produces enough energy for its current needs, its distribution system has to be modernised to adapt to new demographic realities trig- gered by an increase in popula- tion," a source told MaltaToday. The site for the distribution centre also needs to be large enough for the cumbersome in- frastructure needed, a rare pros- pect within a development zone. Electricity from the Delimara power station and the Magħtab terminal is distributed to four primary substations – or dis- tribution centres – two at Mar- sa, and in Kappara and Mosta, through underground cables of 90.8km carrying 132 kilo- Volts. At these centres, voltage is stepped down to 33kV so that electricity can be channelled to another 21 substations – 18 in Malta, two in Gozo, one in Comino. But residents in Naxxar who are suffering the brunt of over-development have ex- pressed disappointment that an area which the local plan allo- cates for community facilities is now being allocated for electric- ity distribution. The issue was even raised at the local council by a resident who insisted the project is in breach of zoning policies, and is only being trig- gered by the new development on the trade fair grounds, where a 10-storey development was re- cently approved. Naxxar mayor Anne Marie Fenech Adami – who controver- sially approved of the 10-storey development despite protesta- tions from residents – told resi- dents that the council had raised the issue with the authorities. "Don't worry, we are at it," she said. Residents objecting to the pro- ject expressed their resentment at the loss of another open space. "We were promised that the site was to include minimal buildings with plenty of open spaces. It is now totally ridiculous that even this area will be built up with a huge distribution centre to sup- ply the adjacent monstrosities that are being constructed next to the Trade Fair grounds". Residents also expressed health concerns about low frequen- cy electromagnetic frequencies (EMF), although official sources say such concerns lack scientific grounding. MaltaToday understands the project is unlikely to happen in the next year. In the meantime, the Superintendence for Cultur- al Heritage has given its green light to Enemalta's project, de- spite the discovery of archaeo- logical remains in the area which led to revisions to plans for a €32 million disability centre ap- proved in 2017. The SCH had welcomed the project architect's intent to pre- serve and integrate any recorded archaeological features. The disability hub was to in- clude four separate blocks of 78 residential units, a 26-room hostel, a restaurant and cafete- ria, a retail outlet, a convenience store, a gym and therapy pool and landscaped areas. In 2019, the request was made to shift the four blocks in order to preserve archaeological features discov- ered during excavation. The area earmarked for Enemalta's distribution centre was actually intended for landscaping, a drop zone for cars and one of the four residential blocks. According to recent statements in the House of Representatives, the government is reconsidering plans for the Reach disability hub. "Stakeholders showed us that there are different needs. As we're in this phase, this re- thinking should be done with the best use of local and foreign expertise and according to the needs of today," inclusion min- ister Julia Farrugia Portelli said. But the application for the disa- bility hub was never withdrawn and is still pending although the process has been at a standstill since 2019. Energy sub-station looms in Naxxar Area zoned for Reach disability hub now earmarked for 2,000sq.m distribution centre 'necessary' to cater for population increase in Naxxar

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