I feel I should comment about Carmel Cacopardo's constructive opinion article The MLP And Environmental Justice (September 22). Judging from the way Mr Cacopardo presents his arguments it is more evident that the ill-treatment he recently had to endure, perhaps concocted by some individuals at Mepa itself, was undeserved.
In referring to Labour's policy document on the environment, Mr Cacopardo takes Labour to task on two highly sensitive policy aspects - the golf courses issue and waste management. Mr Cacopardo attempts to devise a contradiction between the reference to golf courses in Labour's Tourism Plan and the party's position on the matter as stated in its policy document on the environment.
I agree with Mr Cacopardo that all of us, not least the present government, have learnt a lesson in the way the Xaghra l-Hamra and Verdala golf course matters have been handled. But then, delving further into the setting up of golf courses, he accuses Labour of sitting on the fence and trying to "please conflicting views", citing the inclusion of statements like "... provided that this is carried out in a sustainable manner ..." as evidence of lack of clarity in our position on the issue.
I cannot but disagree with Mr Cacopardo's interpretation; I consider these arguments as utterly unjust. Throughout the entire consultation process leading to the drafting of its policy documents, one of Labour's intentions was to take up potentially conflicting challenges - such as the need for golf courses and the environment - with an open mind, definitely keeping our focus on the country's economic and social needs. Labour is fully aware that Mr Cacopardo's and many others' scepticism about the sustainability of golf courses on our islands is far from being totally unfounded. Nonetheless, given Malta's immediate and future tourism needs, Labour's position is that we should keep all our reasonable options open on the premise that no final decision is taken unless a rigorous analysis (including an adequate EIA) is carried out as stipulated by law.
Mr Cacopardo seems concerned about the Labour environment document lacking reference to environment justice. Yet, two paragraphs later, he describes Labour's initiative to spread the waste management burden over the whole country as "courageous". And so it was! Perhaps Labour's greatest pride in its handling of the Sant' Antnin waste recycling plant issue lies in the fact that, albeit in opposition, the party has been a prime mover in instilling a national conscience about the country's need to adopt a regional policy for the entire waste management process.
Eventually, government not only realised that its intention to have all Malta's waste recycled in Marsascala was a far cry from what one would call "environmental justice" but, as Mr Cacopardo himself mentions, it commissioned another EIA (at taxpayer's expense) for a reduced plant covering just one-third of Malta's projected waste stream. Never mind the Nationalist government's U-turn!
Mr Cacopardo ought to be congratulated for the concluding two paragraphs in his article. It exemplifies some of the good sense and political maturity that Malta seriously needs in the management of its environment; and this is not being sarcastic.
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