Politicians blame one another for decisions taken in the past which have led to the current degradation of our towns and villages. What we should be asking our politicians now is: how are you going to pull the country out of the mess we are already all in before it gets any worse?

Fortunately, Din l-Art Ħelwa and a few other NGOs have recently resorted to the law courts to declare guidelines issued by the Planning Authority (such as DC2015 and its annexes) unlawful and, thereby, void.

These and similar policies purposely (mis)interpret clear rules in our laws and local plans to skew very basic concepts, such as the meaning of two or three floors in our laws which, abracadabra, transform themselves into five or six floors.

The result of the application of these unlawful guidelines is manifest across our urban spaces. Quaint streets of two or three storey houses are now peppered with unsightly five- or six-floor apartment blocks which have destroyed any semblance of symmetry in our streetscapes.

It is farcical to think that it must be a court of law that will have to determine that reference to two or three floors in our law actually means what it says and not five or six floors, and it will be interesting to see how the authorities will handle the deluge of constitutional issues and remedial claims which their unlawful interpretation of clear law has given rise to.

It is comforting to think that our courts will safeguard our legitimate expectations and uphold our basic human rights to the full enjoyment of property as enshrined in our constitution and in the European Convention of Human Rights.

But will justice come fast enough to halt the rampant uglification of the island before it is too late?

Should our authorities be allowed to continue to perpetuate a state of unlawfulness unchecked? Shouldn’t we and our political representatives be holding our authorities to account?

I would dare say that even those who have benefited most financially from the current ill-fated mindset (greedy Portelli and Co. excluded), realise that the tipping point has long come and gone.

Our villages will never again be quaint, our cities will never look orderly, our valleys will never look green and lush- Arnold Cassola

Our villages will never again be quaint, our cities will never look orderly and homogenous, our valleys will never look green and lush and, sadly, our seaside and bays will never be the envy of the rest. Our children will shun the mess we are leaving them.

The lure of the Tyrol, the charm of a Tuscan village or the unspoiled beauty of the coastal villages and bays along the coasts of our Mediterranean neighbours are far outshining ours. Maltese youths are abandoning their homeland in droves.

It is high time that we acknowledge that, over the past 30 years or so, we have pillaged our countryside, wrecked our villages and painted ourselves into a very tight, bleak corner.

Worse still, by appropriating our countryside and depleting our fresh air, we have robbed present and many future generations of the serenity and tranquillity that human beings desperately need for their own basic sanity.

We have taken it to a point where even our collective best efforts to remedy this malaise will probably prove futile. Like kids left to their own devices in a sweet shop, we’ve stuffed ourselves with as much candy as we can, only to realise it’s made us all sick and it’s too late now to do anything about it.

As our quaint village cores are replaced by more and more austere Kafkaesque concrete blocks and our children and their families gradually seek greener pastures elsewhere so will our tourists. It is no mystery that quality tourism is built on a quality offering.

A massive shift in the choice of our political representatives is needed if we are to put the brakes on this self-inflicted scourge.

Arnold Cassola is a former secretary general of the European Greens.

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