Twenty-one groups this morning condemned what they described as the "institutional attack on the environment" and said that it was not acceptable that the government was changing the laws to allow more savage development on ODZ areas.

Addressing a press conference Astrid Vella from the FAA said that all the groups would be attending this Saturday's protest by Front Ħarsien ODZ and called upon the public to make sure to support the environment.

The groups harshly criticized the government for proposing an unacceptable review of the SPED (the new law which will replace the Structure Plan) saying that this will continue to make matters worse for the environment.

"If Joseph Muscat wants to keep his pre-election pledges on the environment he should order a moratorium on ODZ development and redraw the SPED (Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development)" Simone Mizzi from Din l-Art Helwa said.

She said the plan was superficial and would open the way for projects to be built in ODZs  if it is not feasible for them to be built on developed land. 

Members of the group said Outside Development Zones should be protected by the constitution, in that the support of  two-thirds of Parliament should be required for any development to take place there.

Asked about the government' s environmental credentials Ms Vella said that she was not surprised with the ongoing attack on the environment as before the election Dr Muscat made conflicting promises to environmentalists and developers. "This is the result" she said.

The participating NGOs were: Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Ramblers Association, Graffitti, Din l-Art Helwa, National Independent Forum for Sustainability - NIFS, Birdlife Malta, Youth for the Environment Y4TE, Greenhouse Malta, MOAM, NatureTrust Malta, Integra Foundation, Platform of Human Rights Organisations in Malta (PHROM), Organisation for Friendship in Diversity (OFD), aditus, Gender Liberation, The Critical Institute, KSU, Students’ Philosophical Society (SPS), ADZ Green Youth and the Jesuits.