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Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) in a statement today said that it “campaigns for the need for resident-friendly environmental policies and practices aimed at improving quality of life, achievable through balanced management of our environment and heritage assets.
“With this in mind, FAA has followed the various policy statements made by the political parties in the on-going electoral campaign.”
“Addressing the energy issue, the only aspect within FAA’s remit is planning, however FAA has always emphasised the importance of using clean energy, especially alternative, renewable energy. In the case of the PL energy proposals, FAA insists that all the necessary environmental assessments and EU requirements must be adhered to, especially in view of the protected ecology and landscape in the area and, should this not be the case, then FAA will not fail to speak out. However, just as FAA had refused requests to criticise the Mistra case on the eve of the 2008 election, it will not be drawn into any political agendas,” the NGO said.
In the run-up to the election, FAA highlights “the dangers of misplaced promises being made as vote-catchers. Both leaders of the two main political parties have promised speeded-up permits in supposedly eco.Gozo, the very area which needs special attention if it is to retain its employment numbers in the tourism industry.”
FAA said that it “recalls the hundreds of permits rushed though MEPA before the last elections, many of them abusively. The Lidl project on fields in Xewkija is already being presented without the necessary studies, and the number of applications being processed is increasing. Is this the shape of things to come?”
“Now that the property glut has proven that more development is not needed, do the main parties have the courage to reverse the Rationalisation take-up of virgin land especially when our village cores are becoming increasingly abandoned and dilapidated? Will MEPA’s expert committees on heritage and environment and Auditor/Ombudsman continue to be ignored by the MEPA Boards? Do the main political parties share the stand, viewed by other public bodies, that board members should not be appointed by politicians? Will top MEPA officials again be hand-picked, in violation of public appointment procedure?” FAA asked.
“The IMF and the EU have both warned that over-development is weakening our banking system, while the public has identified over-development as Malta’s greatest environmental problem. Still neither of the two main parties are prepared to offend the developers by tackling this issue which is undermining public health as well as tourism.
“Unlike other public representatives, the main parties have not yet declared themselves on the abusive boathouses at Armier and elsewhere, many of them built recently while politicians closed a blind eye to this blatant theft of public land,” the NGO said.
“Ground-water continues to be stolen through abusive boreholes with no action being taken while the country faces a water crisis.” FAA asks “when government will start charging for the water being stolen from the public. In spite of running water-saving campaigns, the authorities have dismantled laws that oblige residences to include wells and have failed on enforcement.”
“Will the next party in power have the courage to order roadside vehicle emission testing to reduce Malta’s high rates of air pollution?”
“While care for our heritage has increased over the last few years, the protection of trees has declined with the 2011 dismantling of the tree protection law, allowing developers to build in the few green lungs left in our towns and villages.” FAA asked “Which party will reinstate the protection of mature trees that are so important to the health of residents of urban areas?”
FAA said that “in conclusion, the lack of importance given to the environment in the leading parties’ manifestos would indicate that in spite of years of claiming to embrace environmental values, they have not understood that Malta’s financial prosperity and public health depends on sound environmental management. Job creation in tourism and knowledge-based services similarly depends on ensuring a healthy and green environment which will only materialise when both parties cease to allow developers to determine their policies.”