The Malta Independent 8 December 2022, Thursday
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Environmental NGOs call for Zonqor AUM project to be called off

Friday, 24 November 2017, 13:17 Last update: about 6 years ago

Five environmental NGOs have called on the government to call off the construction of a university campus at Zonqor Point, Marsascala, adding that the site should be reinstated as part of the Inwadar National Park.

Last week, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the Zonqor campus, which is the largest of two campuses that the American University of Malta intends to have, should not be built until the Cospicua campus reaches full capacity.

Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar, the Ramblers' Association of Malta, Front Ħarsien ODZ, Friends of the Earth Malta and Nature Trust Malta noted the "prudent" statements made by the PM but said they were concerned that "since Sadeen Education Investments Limited is a private firm, it is free to disregard the commitments made by the PM."

The eNGOs said they were disappointed that the Prime Minister has not committed to leaving Zonqor Point in its natural state and that plans for the Zonqor Campus are in the meantime still being processed by the Planning Authority under the number PA 04746/17.

They are of the opinion that the Zonqor project should be called off. "In this manner the people of the surrounding localities will be able to enjoy this open space as originally envisaged," they said.

"In light of the considerable negative environmental impact of the project the eNGOs also wish to state that they remain committed in their opposition to the Zonqor Point campus and that they will be challenging the project through the planning process at the appropriate time."

The AUM project has always been surrounded by controversy because of the planned use of virgin land at Zonqor Point.

Originally a campus of 90,000 square metres was planned at Zonqor, but following national protests the project was scaled down and split in two, with a smaller campus in Zonqor and a second campus being develop in derelict historical buildings alongside Cospicua's Dock 1.

AUM, which is managed by the Sadeen Group, made the headlines again when it emerged that only around 20 students had enrolled for the first year, despite original projections that the university would start with a thousand students.

Both the PM and Education Minister Evarist Bartolo have insisted that construction of the Zonqor campus should not start before the Cospicua campus reaches full capacity. Works at the Cospicua campus are still ongoing while the Zonqor campus is still in application stage.


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