It is becoming more and more evident that Labour’s talk on protecting the environment is nothing but empty words.

A few days ago, Prime Minister Robert Abela was reassuring his audience that the trees many feared would be uprooted in order to make way for Attard’s central link project were, in fact, preserved.

The prime minister must either think his audience are complete fools or else he is completely detached from reality. Anyone driving through the yet incomplete project can see that the trees that had to be preserved are actually slowly dying off because of lack of proper care by Infrastructure Malta.

These old pine trees have been protected since at least 1949 but they did not escape the barbaric onslaught by Malta’s most notorious environmental offender, Infrastructure Malta. The Nationalist Party will not allow the systemic unnecessary destruction of trees. On the contrary, we shall be documenting trees with a view to preserving them.

Although unlikely, let us assume the prime minister has not frequented the place enough to see for himself the atrocities being committed and give him the benefit of the doubt. However, Transport Minister Ian Borg, who surely regularly commutes through his very own flagship project on his way to work from home or vice versa, cannot be excused.

Yet, we have a government that has the audacity to lie to our face even about facts that are there for everyone to see, let alone on matters that are carried out behind closed doors, which brings me to my next point, the Marsascala marina.

It is evident that the Labour government is already committed to developing the marina at all costs. According to Borg, who appears to have taken it upon himself to destroy whatever is left of Malta’s natural and cultural heritage, the project is needed to berth the ever-increasing number of pleasure boats. He tells us that, in such a situation, the country is faced with three options: stop registering boats, establish yacht yards on land or else develop a marina, with the last option being the most feasible.

Only the PN can stop this constant senseless destruction in one locality after the other- Robert Cutajar

However, strangely enough, the minister fails to acknowledge that the chosen site will be subjected to such a significant level of environmental degradation that it makes the project an obvious non-starter.

In this case, the marina is being proposed in Abela’s hometown. The prime minister can easily see the many beachgoers who will be deprived of the enjoyment of such a place due to a few boat owners. He can see the current unspoilt state of the place’s natural marine environment that will be destroyed by dredging, land reclamation and breakwater construction. He should take note of the environmental NGOs that are trying to safeguard one of Malta’s few remaining brackish water habitats of Il-Magħluq.

Likewise, on Comino, the impact on the natural environment was disregarded by the Gozo Ministry, which illegally dug up oversized trenches, ostensibly for the vending stalls  and to hard surface the road at the picturesque Blue Lagoon, without a permit from ERA or the Planning Authority.

The prime minister wants to assure us that the institutions are working but, after that, on behalf of the PN, I had reported the abuse to the environmental ombudsman who, in turn, confirmed the abuse and ordered the reversal of the works, yet no such reversal took place.

To make matters worse, the place is now subject to further abuse by the deckchair-hire operators who occupy public land to the exclusion of the common citizen, without any controls whatsoever.

The PN will ensure that the people’s rights to the enjoyment of public land and access to the coast are truly safeguarded. The party is also adamant that, once in government, it will ensure that abandoned and neglected areas are rehabilitated and given back to the public,and to increase pedestrian zones.

Soon, the people will be asked to choose a party to govern on its behalf. My advice to the electorate is to start thinking from now about the choices ahead and take note of the proposals put forward by the PN on environmental protection.

Only the PN can stop this constant senseless destruction in one locality after the other. It is the PN which can seriously safeguard the environment for the benefit of current and future generations.

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