The Malta Independent 18 June 2024, Tuesday
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Update: Hunters and environmentalists unite against development of ODZ in Marsascala

Therese Bonnici Saturday, 16 May 2015, 10:57 Last update: about 10 years ago

Just over a month ago, hunters and environmentalists were campaigning against each other in the run up to the spring hunting referendum. Now, both camps have taken the same position against the location proposed by MEPA, and supported by the government, to develop a university campus.

Ironically, despite making the choice, the development is in direct conflict with the MEPA’s Malta South Local Plan and the Rural Policy Design Guidance which clearly state that the site should only be used for informal recreation and that development which could impact protected species and their habitats should not be permitted.

This morning, a number of NGOs including Birdlife Malta, FKNK, Flimkien Ghal-Ambjent Ahjar, Rambler’s Association, Friends of the Earth Malta and the Noise Abatement Society met up with the Opposition to discuss the best way forward.

Leader of the Opposition Simon Busuttil said that the location chosen is not appropriate, first because by definition it is an outside development zone, it is agricultural land and of ecological and scientific important. There are several historical landmarks both on site and the immediate vicinity.

"MEPA’s role is to protect ODZ land and not to suggest its development. MEPA has disqualified itself from being a just and independent player,” Dr Busuttil said. “If this should become the norm, than the whole concept of an ODZ would be compromised.”

The figure above, taken from the Malta South Local Plan, clearly shows that the area up for development is marked as a natural park.

Hunter’s Association calls on government to reconsider

In a statement, the Federation for Hunting and Conservation – Malta (FKNK) called on the government to examine all possibilities for the said building to be erected in another area,   where possibly what little left of the Maltese islands natural and agricultural land will not be lost.

It also appealed to the government and MEPA to ensure that all necessary environmental impact assessments are carried out, such that the objectives of opportunity for educational development  are not lost, however, without causing irreversible damage to our natural environment.

Statement by Y4TE

The proposed project of an American University of Malta being built in an ODZ (Outside Development Zone) at Zonqor point has caused a mixture of opinions to be voiced; the general opinion being in favour of the environment.

As Youth for the Environment (Y4TE), we believe that areas designated as ODZ should remain untouched and continued to be preserved in their natural state. As a youth NGO which voices the opinions of many young people who are the future inheritors of this island, we believe that this project should be relocated to another suitable area.

New buildings are constantly being constructed, while large numbers of abandoned buildings found in Malta are left out of the equation. Unfortunately, the Maltese Islands may be compared to an over-built concrete jungle surrounded by sea; having limited green spaces and pristine land. All this has a direct impact on both the mental and physical health of the Maltese.

Zonqor point in Marsascala is one of the few areas left which displays a number of agricultural fields and habitats untouched by development. Farmers working the fields at Zonqor point have expressed their concern about the ever-decreasing agricultural land in Malta.

The go ahead towards building a University in this area of the South may lead to further expansion of businesses and further development in the area, thus causing a large negative environmental impact whilst also affecting those who rely on agriculture as a source of income.

The deliberate disregard of the importance of the local natural environment by the government and MEPA is raising a lot of questions from environmentalists and NGOs. The present rate of using virgin land for development is an alarming issue which needs to be addressed.

Finally, Youth for the Environment would like to point out that untouched land does not give the go ahead for developers to start building without undergoing a proper Environment Impact Assessment of the area, where possible consequences and impacts are thoroughly considered. Also, a project of this scale must have full transparency, where the public is consulted beforehand. The proposed American University may have a number of advantages regarding education and economic prosperity however such action should not be done at the expense of our invaluable natural heritage and countryside.

PL reminds that PN had no issue with fuel power station at Marsascala

In a statement, the Labour Party said that Dr Busuttil is trying to take advantage of those having genuine concerns about the university project, to score political points. Yet, he failed to come up with a viable alternative for the project, and has showed he is against pluralism in the education sector.

It also shows that Dr Busuttil does not want projects in the south of Malta, which was left neglected during Nationalist administration, the statement continued. “Dr Busuttil is fine with having a fuel powerstation in the south of Malta, but not with the idea of a university campus,” the statement concluded.

Dr Muscat is expected to address party activisits in Marsascala tomorrow.

In a statement, the Labour Party said that Dr Busuttil is trying to take advantage of those having genuine concerns about the university project, to score political points. Yet, he failed to come up with a viable alternative for the project, one which is studied. Also, he has showed he is against pluralism in the education sector.

It also shows that Dr Busuttil does not want projects in the south of Malta, which was left neglected during Nationalist administration, the statement continued. “Dr Busuttil is fine with having a fuel powerstation in the south of Malta, but not with the idea of a university campus,” the statement concluded.

Dr Muscat is expected to address party activisits in Marsascala tomorrow.

PN reacts

In a reaction to the statement, the PN said that the Labour Party has the cheek to say that the proposals by Dr Busuttil are not studied, when it was Dr Muscat’s decision to develop an OZD without consultation or an environment impact report.

Dr Muscat has a number of option available, but he has chosen to be stubborn, the PN said. Is it because he has allowed the Jordanian investors to decide for him?

 

The Prime Minister has managed to unite everyone against him, the statement concluded.


 

 

 

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