The Malta Independent 1 March 2021, Monday

Land usage

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 18 February 2021, 08:00 Last update: about 11 days ago

Gradually, at par with questions regarding the success or otherwise of economic growth policy or regarding the correct implementations of social justice, another topic has been getting incessant attention as an item on the national agenda – land usage.

Where should new construction be located, where should it be barred? What can be demolished, what must be protected on built up land? What can be built to replace demolished buildings, and how that should be done? What should be the limits of built-up land? To what extent should what remains of the countryside be preserved?

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The greater priority being attached to land usage does not simply follow from the population increase that these islands have experienced or from the new funds that were injected in the economy and then went searching for investments that could give rapid results. There have been as well voices which have highlighted the issue of land usage that is continually broadening to suit construction purposes. The voices started on a low note but they are no longer so weak. Their motivation goes beyond environmental considerations.

I cannot see how at the present stage, land usage is a factor that will affect greatly how people vote. But it will not be so long before it will.

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PROPERTY RIGHTS

A comment made by my friend Dr Joe Brincat was among those which I found most thought provoking in past months. As of the 1970’s and 1980’s, he was among the pioneers, perhaps the most influential, who strived to get Malta to sign and ratify the European Convention of Human Rights. But if I understood him well, he now almost regrets having done so.

For this reason: The Convention and the courts that apply it, are being used to affirm property rights, even in contrast with the need to sustain the fundamental right of social protection for those who do not have the wherewithal to pay market prices for their accomodation.

Dr Brincat’s comment raises multiple issues. It makes sense to reflect about its deep meaning and the consequences that could follow from it.

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ANIMAL PROTECTION

And once the discussion turns to rights, one notes how another progressive development in recent decades has been the declaration of animal rights. On its basis, humanity is recognizing that our planet belongs to all species, not only man. So the existence of other animals alongside our own implies that wherever they are to be found, they have rights as much as we do.

It so happened that humans exercised the supremacy over the rest that they achieved in the course of twenty to thirty thousand years, in order to effectively enslave their animal “partners”. Some were exterminated, others serve as raw materials for factories that supply food to humans, while yet others serve different purposes, like as toys, a source for a variety of products though use of their skin, their bones and other parts of their body, plus a lot more.

In this scenario of cruelty and exploitation of animals by man, it is a most important development that at last, the call for animal rights has resonated. 

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