No consultation and no action on air pollution – FAA

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No consultation and no action on air pollution - FAAFlimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) said it is receiving regular reports that new traffic routes are being pushed through with no consideration for the needs of the local residents. Transport Malta and some Local Councils seem to believe that the Aarhus Convention, which stipulates that the public is to be consulted when decisions on environmental matters are to be taken, is nothing more than a piece of paper to be ignored. These appeals to FAA and other NGOs are a worrying indication that people are losing all trust in those agencies that have been created at great cost to the taxpayer to improve the quality of life on the islands.

“Having won postponement of Malta’s EU obligations to ensure air quality, MEPA’s air monitoring seems to exist only to abide by the letter of the law and not its spirit, with no consideration for the health problems caused by increased air pollution. The peace of entire communities is being shattered while properties whose price was based on the fact that the locality was a peaceful one, are being devalued,” FAA said.

“In Mellieha, the Local Council has decided to change Mellieha’s main road into a one-way road, re-routing uphill traffic via Triq Gnien Ingraw. This is not only one of Mellieha’s most beautiful areas, but also the location of the residence for the elderly as well as the Primary School and a children’s playground. Residents claim that this plan to turn Triq Gnien Ingraw into a main road was taken without involving any of the residents, in violation of laws on public consultation,” FAA continued.

FAA went on to say that at tal-Virtu and Kappara, schools have been allowed to expand in established residential areas without the required traffic impact assessments. “This violates Structure Plan regulations which decree that developments will not normally be permitted if the proposals are likely to have a negative impact on existing adjacent uses because of visual intrusion, noise, atmospheric pollution, unusually high traffic generation and any other form of bad neighbourliness.”

“!In Sliema, Local Plan guidelines to re-direct new development away from the town towards outlying areas have been ignored for years, with the result that traffic pollution has increased uncontrollably. The total lack of planning in closing off Bisazza Street before the Tigné tunnel is open, is now causing constant traffic jams in Qui si-Sana and Savoy which are filling homes with toxic exhaust fumes, FAA said.

Msida’s problems are well-known FAA said, “yet more apartments are being built there. Attard has lost all cohesion and this once quiet village is now inundated by streams of traffic that have split it up into three or four isolated areas. Conditions in Qormi and Marsa have hardly improved and all the talk about people’s quality of life seems to be just talk. Fgura’s perennial traffic-related air pollution was aggravated by the felling of the trees that lined the main road and formed a buffer between the traffic and homes. Pleas to plant new trees have fallen on deaf ears.”

“Valletta is the latest victim of bad planning as the demolition of Pope Pius V Road will re-introduce traffic into residential areas. Directing traffic up the steepest part of Old Bakery Street will greatly increase air pollution in that area. Although the Traffic Management Plan predicts jams and delays at the junction of Marsamxett Road with St. Mark’s Street and the need to close part of Old Bakery Street daily, Valletta communities have not been consulted at any point, FAA said.

“Air pollution is a life-threatening reality which contributes to asthma, coronary conditions especially emphysema, and cancer.” FAA said it deplores the authorities’ lack of action; public transport reform will not solve all traffic problems at a stroke and in the meantime the nation’s health is suffering.

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