Labour has relegated the environment, says Francis Zammit Dimech

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Labour has relegated the environment, says Francis Zammit Dimech“I welcome the fact that no EU funds have been used on the white flag initiative as confirmed by the Commission,” said MEP Francis Zammit Dimech. “I also welcome the initiatives taken by the Commission for its strategy on plastics in the European Union.”

“At the European Parliament we have taken a clear position against the use of single-use plastic calling for single-use cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers to be banned from 2021,” the MEP added.

“Meanwhile the Maltese Government needs to do much more when it comes to waste management. One cannot pretend to collect waste from a beach and erect a white flag and solve the issue,” he stated.

Zammit Dimech made these remarks following an official reply received from the European Commission to a question he had raised on the controversial White Flag initiative.

The MEP mentioned how other small islands in the Mediterranean had become, or are in the process of becoming, free form single-use plastics, case in point islands which are few kilometres from our shores such as Pantelleria and Lampedusa. Zammit Dimech said that this requires a culture change.

The government had launched the EU funded fruit and vegetables scheme not only late but was to date still distributing fruit and vegetables in single-use plastic containers,” said Zammit Dimech.

The MEP argued that “as an island Malta was duty bound to do more after all it was estimated by the European Commission that 80% of marine litter is plastics. “One should keep in mind that the sea is an important resources on which one of our crucial economic sectors – tourism – also depends.”

Zammit Dimech went on to say that last week’s storm has brought to our shores thousands of pieces of plastic and big efforts are needed to tackle this global challenge and that he would contribute with further clean-up initiatives.

“Whilst the government had set up Ambjent Malta and increased Marine Protected Areas, which were both positive measures, such areas were short of being paper parks as management of such sites was still scant,” the MEP said.

“The government is not giving due priority to the environment and is failing on key issues including when it comes to waste management,” he said. Malta stands last when it comes to recycling at a rate of 7%, far away from the 2020 target of 50%.

He noted how if it wasn’t for the PN local councillors in Xaghra, the government would have started to use the landfill at Tal-Qortin again.

Furthermore, said the MEP, “Malta’s air quality is among the worse in Europe (forth from last) and is getting worse due to traffic and lack of action from the government.”

Photograph by Alain Salvary

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