The Malta Independent 14 July 2024, Sunday
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TMID Editorial: Wake up

Monday, 29 May 2023, 10:04 Last update: about 2 years ago

Saturday’s environment protest should serve as a wake up call for the government and planning institutions.

It was not a protest that was supported by just one section of society, but included people from all over. Academics, NGOs, residents organisations, student groups just to name a few, and was also attended by politicians from the Nationalist Party and Labour Party.

Indeed Gzira mayor Conrad Borg Manche and Qala Mayor Paul Buttigieg both addressed the protestors, and both form part of the Labour Party. 

Wherever you look on the Maltese islands, there is some planning, construction, or environmental issue that needs tackling.

The protestors on Saturday stood up to be counted and said, enough is enough.

In the lead up to the protest, organisers had said that they were demanding immediate action on certain issues. Firstly, to change planning policies - such as those allowing buildings on ODZ, the height and intensity of buildings, and others. Secondly to radically reform all institutions responsible for the environment, planning and lands, so that they start functioning in a serious and transparent manner and independently from politicians and businesses.” Thirdly, to build an economic model that seeks a better quality of life for everyone instead of endless economic growth based on the profits of the few.

These are all admirable goals and reasonable demands.

Malta has seen many, many protests over recent years, and there is no doubt that there is fatigue in this regard. While many attended Saturday’s protest, there were many others who didn’t go but still support the cause.

The government needs to take note of what was said, of the demands, and take action. It is no longer enough for nice words to be spoken.

Moviment Graffiti’s Andre Callus, in his speech on Saturday, said that current planning policy was written by “developers for developers,” and it surely does feel that way.

It feels as though big developers run roughshod over communities. It feels as though our localities have become so dense that there’s hardly room to breathe.

We need more green areas, better care for heritage buildings, better architectural designs that don’t look like they’ve been drawn up by a five year old, better protection of our countryside, better uniformity in our streetscapes. We just need to be better.

How far must we travel to get out of the concrete jungle? What affect is this having on our mental health?

What about Gozo? Qala Mayor Paul Buttigieg mentioned the preservation in Gozo in general, which is being heavily affected by the traffic on the small island. He also mentioned the permanent destruction of the area of the Three Hills.

“Gozo belongs to everyone, meaning it is in the interest of all of us to care for it, regardless of whether you are a Labour or Nationalist supporter or if you belong to any political party,” Buttigieg said.

We need serious overhauls in the way we are moving forward on our islands.


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