A group of 60 organisations behind next Saturday’s environmental protest have presented a six-point plan to safeguard the environment.
In the plan, the organisations outlined their requests in the wake of what they described as the complete disregard to long-term holistic planning.
The protest is being organised by Moviment Graffiti and will be held in Valletta.
Addressing a news conference outside Parliament in Valletta, representatives from these NGOs called for greater democracy in the decision-making process, truly independent institutions and a stronger voice for civil society.
What are the NGO’s requests?
A radical change for these to no longer designed to safeguard the interests of the few rather than the public wellbeing and environmental protection. These comprise the long-awaited fuel station policy which has been in the offing for almost two years, and better regulation of ODZ land and tall buildings.
Authorities responsible for the environment and planning
More transparency in the decision-making processes of these authorities, rather then decisions being taken behind the scenes especially on large-scale projects.
NGOs are requesting a radical change in the composition of the boards of a number of entities, including the Planning Authority, the Environment and Resources Authority and the Building Regulations Office, which they claimed had been turned into a Malta Developers Associations “sub-office”.
All projects such as the one by db Group in St George’s Bay should be halted as they were having a devastating impact on the quality of life due to added traffic congestion, pollution, noise and the usurping of natural sunlight.
This moratorium should last until a comprehensive and serious plan for development was introduced, to make such projects sustainable.
A more regulated construction industry
The NGOs noted that the recent spate of collapses of private dwellings due to adjacent construction works was a testament to the existing state of anarchy.
The onus for action was being placed on residents rather than developers. This was a ridiculous and unacceptable, just like the lack of systematic and persistent lack of enforcement, they said.
In view of this, they called for serious enforcement which truly safeguarded residents.
Roads and transportation
The fifth request related to government’s “frenzy of tree cutting and the destruction of agricultural land” to widen roads
Rather than reduce traffic, such measures would only serve to make the situation worse through increased pollution, it was pointed out.
In this respect the NGOs called on the government to reconsider such policy and address traffic congestion by promoting alternative means of transport.
Respect for the planet, country and individuals
Being the most built-up country in Europe, with a third of its land developed, Malta’s natural habitat is already under great strain, the NGOs said.
In view of this, they called for measures to safeguard the last few remaining open spaces in urban areas and to strengthen the protection of the natural habitat to prevent further loss of biodiversity.
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