The Malta Independent 22 June 2021, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: Environment - Hiding behind the backs of the previous administration

Saturday, 5 June 2021, 06:57 Last update: about 17 days ago

At risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s obvious for us to point out that the environment – more specifically over-development – is currently one of the chief concerns in the country.

With every planning application in agricultural land; with every planning application which risks obliterating a skyline forever; with every planning application that doesn’t make any logical sense – the anger grows.

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This week, The Malta Independent on Sunday revealed and gave prominence to a campaign to turn Hondoq ir-Rummien in Gozo back to an Outside Development Zone. 

This newspaper even wrote an editorial subsequently following this matter up, and later also reported that the Nationalist Party was ready to buy the area back from its private landowners if it is elected to government so that the area can be made into a national park.

The Prime Minister, asked about this subject though, was far less committal. Answering questions on the subject, Robert Abela chose to focus more on the general issue – pinning the blame for the situation today on local plans introduced in 2006 by a Nationalist government, and saying that the government’s hands were tied.

We must recognise: yes, it was the 2006 local plans which have allowed things to reach the point which they have.  The changes to the local plans along with the rationalisation exercise carried out back then are the root cause for what we are seeing today.

So the Prime Minister is justified in his criticism of those points.  What he is not justified in doing however is hiding behind them as an excuse for the Labour Government not changing anything.

2006 was 15 years ago now – but lest we forget: the Labour Party has now been in government for eight of those years – over half. 

One could forgive the Prime Minister if his shoving blame on the PN’s policies was done within the first year or two of Labour’s tenure – but to still be blaming the failings of a 15-year-old policy when they’ve had 8 years to change it is nothing more than using it as an excuse.

We must question: the Labour government has made it such a habit to praise their own ability on how they had fixed so much of what the PN administration left for them – and yet when it comes to the environment; to change something as important as the local plans, they choose to plead that their hands are tied and that it’s the previous administration’s fault?

Simply playing the defeated and blaming the previous administration for shortcomings doesn’t cut it anymore – not 8 years into one’s tenure.

Isn’t it the government’s job to fix what is wrong?

The country’s local plans – and its general attitude to the environment from a regulatory perspective – need a complete re-jig, and the sooner the government stops using 15-year-old policies as an excuse and a scapegoat for not doing anything, the better.

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