The Malta Independent 22 August 2019, Thursday

Online petition calls for removal of ERA chairman

Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 08:56 Last update: about 30 days ago

An online petition has been launched, calling for the removal of the Environment and Resources Authority Chairman Victor Axiak. As at Monday morning, over 2,500 people signed the petition.

Axiak recently voted in favour of the Central Link project that will take up over 45,000 square metres of agricultural land, and see more than 500 trees removed. The project will see more trees planted than will be removed, however arguments of Malta’s natural heritage being destroyed given some of those being removed are hundreds of years old, has been argued.

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“Environment and Resources Authority Chairman Victor Axiak has repeatedly voted against the environment rather than in favour of saving it,” the petition reads.

“The citizens residing in Malta that care about the environment have had enough of a political appointee ruining our little remaining countryside and above all, humanity’s most important resource – trees that produce oxygen.”

“We need someone that will not vote in favour of projects that go against society's environmental needs.”

“Therefore we call upon the Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat, the Minister responsible for the Environment Jose Herrera and the Government of Malta as a whole to demand the resignation of Victor Axiak and to change the political appointee system,” the petition concludes.

In terms of how the chairman is picked today, the Environment Protection Act reads that the minister will appoint to the authority’s board, two public officers representing the Government, one of whom has experience or qualifications in matters concerning  the  environment,  and  another  who  has experience  or  qualifications  in  matters  concerning environmental health or social policy. Then “six  members  (hereinafter  called  the  ‘independent members’) shall be chosen from amongst persons of known integrity and with knowledge of and experience in the  Environmental  Voluntary  Organisations  sector  and  who  shall  be  nominated  by  the  said voluntary organisations;  and the rest being persons with knowledge of and experience in matters relating to the functions of the authority, for good governance.” One member is chosen by the Leader of the Opposition. The Chairman “shall be chosen by the minister from amongst the independent members of the Authority.”

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