The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

AD express concern over plan to build new university in South, government replies

Saturday, 2 May 2015, 13:04 Last update: about 5 years ago

AD Chairperson Arnold Cassola has welcomed any investment that can contribute to the welfare of the country and its people, however stressed that one must ensure that environmental and social considerations must be on the forefront when planning such projects.

He was referring to the Prime Minister's announcement yesterday - that the south of Malta will be benefiting from a major educational project involving an American University.

"It is therefore of utmost importance that the planned American University be sited in an area of the South that can be enhanced, rather than taking up virgin land which serves as a natural green lung. Educational projects should not serve as an excuse for commercial building development and the consequent rape of Maltese natural heritage".

Deputy Chairman and spokesman on the environment  Carmel Caccopardo stated that the campus of the proposed university will take up a large area of land currently outside the development zone.

"While details of the proposal have not been made public to date it is understood that a substantial area of land between Xghajra, Zabbar and Zonqor Point Marsaskala will be taken up. AD estimates that the uptake of land could be in the region of 20 hectares and this excludes additional virgin land which will need to be taken up for the development of roads and services. Even at this early stage the social and environmental impacts of such a project have to be carefully considered. The land which apparently is earmarked for development is an agricultural area very close to and possibly including an area which the South Malta Local Plan describes as 'sites of scientific importance and areas of ecological importance proposed for scheduling.'"

AD is of the opinion that the scale of the proposed investment is massive, is not sustainable and takes up too much land. Malta cannot and should not sacrifice so much of our natural heritage for short term gain.

Government replies

In response, government noted that while AD is positive towards the concept on a new educational institution in the South, it appears that the basic information AD has is 'incorrect'.

"AD said that the project will occupy 200,000 metres square yet the fact is that the proposed project will be half that size. There is no intention to develop the whole zone, rather many open areas are planned," a government statement said.

"AD also said that the zone is of scientific importance, The South Malta Local Plan, parts of which were never implemented, suggest that part of the zone can be classified as being of scientific importance. The government will take all necessary measures to ensure that this area will be affected as little as possible".

Government said that informal consultation is ongoing and stressed that public consultation will take place and that environmental impact studies will also be initiated. 

"Government will also create a National Park in the south of Malta".


Alan Deidun commented: 

 Opening the floodgates - the strategy

The siting of the American University within ODZ land stretching between Marsascala and Xghajra is just a smokescreen, meant only to usher in more development within the same area at a second stage

Since the hotels proposal raised such a large dust storm, the ploy is go for a more acceptable first proposal (a university, which is always welcome of course), to open the floodgates for secondary real estate at a later stage...relegating Sandro Chetcuti away from the limelight for the time being as well, so as not to sow any doubts that any real estate will be involved, of course

The mind boggles as to why such a laudable proposal -a foreign university - cannot be sited within an already-committed site (the so-called brownfield sites - by this, no one is referring to an industrial estate of course) - at the same time, for government to state that the site is simply characterised by 'abandoned agricultural land' indicates that they have not even considered the detailed proposals submitted by a number of environmental NGOs on how to promote ecotourism in the area without increasing the built-up footprint

The Consultative Council for the South should try harder since the public can see through smokescreens nowadays......


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