The Malta Independent 17 July 2024, Wednesday
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FAA to hold the Prime Minister to account on environmental promises

Saturday, 15 June 2024, 10:33 Last update: about 2 months ago

Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA) said Saturday it holds Prime Minister Robert Abela to account for his promise that the government will be taking difficult but desperately needed decisions on environment and quality of life.

The key test begins with dropping the proposed amendments to policy 35 of DC15 currently open for public consultation. FAA said it is inviting the Prime Minister to make his voice heard on DC15 and its interpretation, which will add to Malta’s overdevelopment, and potentially destroy Malta’s traditional town and village streetscapes by allowing the redevelopment of townhouses into 5 and 6-storey pencil developments, increasing Malta’s urban congestion.  The destruction of Malta's traditional architecture and urban fabric by this abusive policy remains one of the primary challenges facing the country.

Just as the Prime Minister has spoken up against specific development projects, it would be expected that this new resolution would similarly put the brakes on damaging projects, FAA said. On the contrary, soon after the Prime Minister’s pronouncement, the abusive permit was issued to politically-connected developers to redevelop Villa St Ignatius, an historic site, in the Sliema/St Julian’s Urban Conservation Area into a modern hotel. A day later, another abusive permit was granted to build a wide 13-storey hotel on a 2-metre narrow lane, the project architect being the brother of Clayton Bartolo, Minister of Tourism.

FAA also called for the implementation of long-overdue Carrying Capacity Studies, to assess whether major projects and further general development can be supported by the existing infrastructure, and establish the maximum population that a given area can sustain. The Nationalist Party has announced that it will be supporting such Carrying Capacity Studies, it is now up to the Government to implement them before further increasing the pressure on Malta’s overpopulated urban areas.

In pursuit of sustainable quality tourism over quantity, and in the name of a better quality of life and public health, FAA calls for a temporary moratorium on major tourism projects, to allow for serious study of the implications of having to double Malta’s tourist intake in order to fill the great number of new hotels being planned. FAA also calls for a halt to the public expenditure on infrastructural upgrades and environmental degradation – noise, emissions and occupation of public land - being made to accommodate these private, speculative developments.

FAA demanded concrete action to address the growing sense of disillusionment citizens have in the entire political system, which serves a few crooked business interests at the expense of the majority of people. The capture of the planning system by certain elites is made possible through a broken party financing system, whereby developers finance politicians’ electoral campaigns, with the result that these politicians find themselves indebted to developers. Party financing reform is required to establish a level playing field between Malta's political parties, so that business people can no longer buy influence while independent politicians and parties can flourish.

FAA asked the Prime Minister to put words into action, and to show that his credibility, by ensuring that the proposed formalisation of the interpretation of DC15 is dropped. His Objection, and that of all people who want to protect their quality of life, should be sent to [email protected] before Monday, June 17.

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