“Government is undervaluing Malta’s true characteristics”
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Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) has said in a statement this afternoon that yesterday’s call for private reclamation projects made no attempt to distinguish between land fill reclamation (as has been used in the past to extend promenades and docks) and the creation of artificial islands.
FAA said. “Government is undervaluing Malta’s true characteristics; instead of aping other countries like Dubai, it is our uniqueness as a ‘gem in the Mediterranean’ and our heritage assets that are the core of our identity and tourist appeal.”
“As land reclamation is hugely expensive, a private company is unlikely to undertake such a costly project in order to build a park or extend a promenade. The option of speculative residential projects would add to Malta’s confirmed 72,150 vacant properties and reduce the chances of sale of existing properties,” FAA said.
The NGO pointed out that “unlike other larger and richer countries which have built on drained marshland or shallow lagoons Malta is not only small but its deep-water sites pose serious problems. Even wealthy countries like Dubai and Hong Kong have encountered serious problems of subsidence and been forced to suspend their programmes.”
FAA said that Government is calling for any type of reclamation project “as long as it is economically and socially viable and does not harm the environment” while ignoring the warnings given by the MEPA-commissioned Scott Wilson 2008 study, which forecast serious environmental damage to protected marine flora and fauna as well as pointing to it being financially non-viable.
“Every coastline building project hitherto carried out has harmed the environment so why are risking murky seas for years, threatening the success of the diving element of tourism and fisheries? A more intelligent approach would be to focus on abandoned hotel sites and restoration projects which generate employment and improve Malta’s competitiveness,” FAA said.
“While it is laudable that Government has stressed that all projects have to be economically, socially and environmentally viable, it is of grave concern that the authorities are not mentioning the EU obligation to carry out a Strategic Environment Assessment for a project that will permanently change Malta’s ecology and land-mass.” FAA concluded.