The Malta Independent 22 July 2024, Monday
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Greed killing our country – symbolic protest by Graffitti

Friday, 12 May 2023, 09:20 Last update: about 2 years ago

During a symbolic action this morning outside the Malta Developers’ Association (MDA) offices, activists highlighted how politicians, authorities and developers are burying our country under unbridled construction.

They called on the public to join them in the national protest Xebbajtuna! Bidla fl-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar ISSA! on Saturday 27 May at 10.30am in Valletta.

By means of coffins representing our quality of life, nature and health, and grim reapers representing developers and the institutions, the activists demanded that our environment and quality of life be given priority over the profits of the few, a statement by the NGO said.

Currently our country has planning policies designed to appease developers so that they may build as much as they can without respect for anything or anyone. Among these policies are those that allow building on ODZ, such as the so called "sheep farm" in a protected valley in Bidnija, massive blocks of commercial apartments in villages, like those of Joseph Portelli in Qala and in Sannat, and intensive commercial buildings in residential areas, such as Michael Stivala’s hotels in Gżira and Sliema and the db Group monster development in Pembroke.

Policies such as the Height Limitation Adjustment Policy for Hotels, the Rural Policy and Annex 2 of DC15, among others, have had a devastating impact on our cities, towns and countryside.

Far from fixing this desperate situation, more is being done to make it worse. A few weeks ago a Legal Notice came into effect which allows for the regularization of illegal buildings on ODZ.

These dysfunctional planning policies are administered by rotten authorities busy rolling out the red carpet for developers and ignoring the pleas of organisations and residents, as well as the laws of our country.

The institution that is there to protect the environment of the Maltese islands, the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), is busy bowing to developers’ greed instead of fulfilling its role of environmental protection. This is clear in ERA’s recent approval of the Hili Group project in Comino, the NGO said.

The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage (SCH) is approving projects that destroy our national heritage, that it was blocking until a year ago. Nor is the SCH opposing the spate of de-scheduling of protected buildings, the activists added.

The Lands Authority manages public land for the good of big businesses instead of for the good of the people. Two recent examples are the cheap sale of natural land in Mellieħa to developers and the transfer of a public alley in St Julian’s for an atrocious project in place of Villa Rosa.

The Planning Authority (PA) is a permit-issuing machine that bulldozes over the needs of communities and the environment instead of being an institution for planning and regulation.

The Planning Tribunal (EPRT), where appeals from ERA and PA decisions are heard, is a farcical institution lacking any independence and competence, the NGO said.

"There is no justice in losing our country to the rule of greed. We are facing an environmental situation that is rapidly getting worse and requires genuine action not empty words and cosmetic changes," the statement concluded.

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