Pre-budget proposals lack any provision for the environment – FAA
|Email item||Print item||
Flimkien ghal Ambjent in a statement today said that it is “extremely concerned by the fact that the pre-budget proposals are totally lacking in any provision for the environment.”
“It can only be concluded that this is reflects the lack of importance given to environmental health by the present Government,” FAA said.
Apart from the implications for nature and biodiversity, FAA emphasised the fact that recent studies have shown that 14% of health problems in Malta are directly attributable to environmental issues.
FAA pointed out that this is backed up by studies published by World Health Organisation, the EU, the European Parliament and leading medical research institutes which point to the impact of air pollution, sound pollution and electromagnetic fields (re wireless telecommunication facilities), on children’s physical and mental development, residents’ health and premature deaths.
Hence investment to improve air and sound pollution would have the effect of reducing the nation’s spending on public and private healthcare, FAA said.
The NGO added that similar studies carried out by EU an US authorities have established the association between access to green areas and improved physical and mental health.
For this reason, FAA said, it calls on the Government to allocate funds to purchase, at market prices, key green lungs in polluted urban areas.
FAA maintained that Manoel Island, which is densely wooded, is one such area which ought to be preserved as a much needed public park, serving as an essential lung for the over-developed North Harbours conurbation.
FAA similarly calls on Government to provide a fund to finally honour the authorities’ pledge to purchase and restore neglected heritage properties that are of historic and architectural importance. “This would not only strengthen Malta’s cultural identity, but prove to be a worthwhile investment by creating employment opportunities, increasing Malta’s touristic product competitivity and drawing more quality tourists to our shores.”
FAA stressed the urgent need of a concerted effort to safeguard Malta’s limited natural water supplies through metering of boreholes and conservation of rainwater presently being discharged into the sea.
“Failure to take steps to remedy this situation negatively impact Malta’s economy due to increased electricity consumption required to produce more water through reverse osmosis,” FAA said.
FAA welcomed the budget proposals’ emphasis on creation of employment in Gozo.
“FAA has always maintained that a cost-benefit analysis is required in order to assess whether the funds to be spent on a bridge or tunnel to give Gozitans better access to Malta, would be more effectively spent on creating job opportunities to enable young Gozitan achievers to remain in Gozo.”
Whilst Flimkien ghal Ambjent said it welcomes the insight which the present Government allows the Maltese public into the pre-budget proposals, emphasising a greater degree of transparency, the NGO said that it “stresses the urgent need for the government to focus within this budget also on environmental concerns of the nation: failing to do so systematically and in all earnest will lead to an ever-growing multiplication of problems for the residents of these islands.”