Imriehel High Rise Appeal

The Ramblers’ Association of Malta, along with Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar and Friends of the Earth Malta has filed an appeal against the permit for the Imriehel Towers in front of the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal.

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Inwadar, American University and Jerma Hotel

4th October 2016

The Ramblers’ Association of Malta wishes to welcome the fact that the National Park between Marsascala and Xgħajra, covering an area which is being referred to as Inwadar, is in the process of being implemented.

Recent Dumping of debris, plastic chairs and white goods.

Recent Dumping of debris, plastic chairs and white goods.

Athough this park is mentioned in the Marsascala North Local Plan of 2006, it had not yet been implemented, and has often been and still is the target of the dumping of waste and debris. The association thus hopes that with a new management structure, the vandalism of this beautiful area will be put to an end. Parts of the park need to be sorely cleaned up and enforcement needs to be stepped up.

The association notes that although this area is already scheduled as an Area of Ecological Importance and a Site of Scientific Importance by the Local Plan, and as an area of High Landscape Protection by the SPED, over the years there have been reports which have suggested that the site is also given further protection by scheduling it as an Area of Agricultural Value. Now that the park is being implemented, the opportunity should be taken to also award this latter designation.

Assorted trash littering the Inwadar National Park.

Assorted trash shamefully littering the Inwadar National Park.

The association also wishes to make it clear that it does not agree with the commercialisation of the park in any way. There has always been a concern that managment plans for these sites (and especially those with Natura 2000 designation), could have these most unwelcome outcomes, and one hopes that the Government will reassure the public that this will not be the case. In addition the association believes that no new structures should be built in the Inwadar park under the cover of increasingly deceitful pretences, such as ODZ restaurants masquerading as interpretation centres.

The association also welcomes the stock take of the rich natural, cultural and historical resources which has been conduucted on site as part of the Management Plan Brief. The Ramblers believe that this conclusively gives the lie to those who tried to degrade the site in the public mind as a wasteland, which could thus be exploited for development purposes.

Garland laid by the Ramblers' at the entrance of the park on the 2nd of October 2016.

Garland laid by the Ramblers’ at the entrance of the park on the 2nd of October 2016.

The Honorary President of the Ramblers' Association adressing the media about Inwadar.

The Honorary President of the Ramblers’ Association adressing the press about Inwadar on the 2nd of October 2016.

On the other hand, the association does not understand how the projected American University campus, which will be taking up space which was assigned to the park itself by the local plan, is even remotely compatible with the level of protection awarded to this site and with the presence of such important natural heritage.

It is evident that the construction of dormitories and sports facilities on this site, which thus have no educational value whatsoever, will further damage and degrade the environment at this site. The Ramblers thus reiterate their objection to these inappropriate facilities and will be further opposing them.

The association wishes to conclude by commending the efforts which are being taken by a number of Marsascala local counsellors to promote further open spaces in their locality, in particular relating to the demolishing of the derelict Jerma Hotel.

On the other hand, the proposals which are being floated to replace this structure with more apartments or high rise buildings is simply unacceptable. Residents should not accept a further lowering of their quality of life. Marsascala has been the target of rampant overdevelopment over the past years and residents should not be duped into allowing those who only want to line their pockets to further ruin their locality.

 

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First Aid Course for Ramblers

*FULLY BOOKED*

Following the interest expressed for the First Aid course that was held last November in the Maltese language, the committee of the Ramblers’ Association of Malta is exploring the possibility to again organize a course in basic First Aid for members, this year in the English language.Contact has already been made with the association Red Cross Malta, who can deliver the required expertise.  For the convenience and in the best interest of members it is being proposed that such a course will be held during November this year, as long as a minimum of 10 persons apply.Exact details of date and time for the course will be given later. The course will be free of charge for members, and €35 for non-members.  The maximum number accepted for each course will be 17, and applications will be received on first-come first-served basis.

All those interested are kindly asked to express their interest by e-mail on this address by Sunday 23rd October 2016.

Best Regards,
The Committee
Ramblers’ Association of Malta
http://www.ramblersmalta.org/
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Walks Programme: October – December 2016

October 2016

 

Sunday: 2nd October:  Zonqor Point, Marsaskala to Smart City (Scenic)

Duration:              Approximately 3 hours

Rating:                  Easy (with a little rough ground along the path)

Meeting Place:      Zonqor Point in the parking place of the Zonqor Swimming Pool, Marsaskala.

Time:                     9:00 a.m.

 

Sunday:  9th October: Cliffs and Caves

Duration:               Approximately 3 hours

Rating:                   Moderate but you need a good head for heights

Meeting Place:       Birzebbugia bus terminus.

Time:                      9:00 a.m.

 

Sunday: 16th October: A visit to the Olive Press (Cultural)

Duration:           3 hrs

Rating:               Easy

Meeting Place:  Mdina Main Gate

Time:                 9:00 a.m.

 

Sunday: 23rd October: Walk in aid of the Community Chest Fund Foundation

Duration:           3 hours approx.

Rating:              Easy to Moderate

Meeting Place:  On the road between the Park and Ride and Lidl (Qormi)

Time:                9:00a.m.

  

Wednesday: 26th October: A morning walk in Gozo

Duration:       from 3 to 4 hours.

Rating:              Moderate

Meeting Place:  Take the 8:15 a.m. ferry boat from Cirkewwa). We will meet at Mgarr harbour in Gozo. from where we will be taking a bus to the starting point. Please remember to bring your bus travel card.

Time:                8:15 ferry boat from Cirkewwa.

 

Sunday: 30th October:  Walk for a purpose – Clean-up morning

Duration:           3 hours approx.

Rating:               Easy

Meeting Place:   Bobbyland, Dingli Cliffs

Time:                  9:00 a.m.

 

November 2016

 

Wednesday: 2nd November: Mqabba, Hal-Millieri, Zurrieq, Qrendi, Mqabba. (Scenic and historical)

Duration:          2 to 3 hours.

Rating:              Easy to Moderate, with some inclines

Meeting Place:  Parish Church of Mqabba.

Time:                 14:00

 

Sunday:  6th November:         Wied il-Kbir Valley System

Duration:          3 to 4 hours.

Rating:              Moderate, with stretches of uneven terrain and some inclines

Meeting Place:  San Sebastian Church, Qormi

Time:                 9:00 a.m.

 

Sunday: 13th November: Gozo walk

Duration:          3 to 4 hours.

Rating:               Moderate.

Meeting Place:   Mgarr Harbour  (Please take the 9:00 a.m. ferry boat from Cirkewwa)

Time:                 9:30 a.m.

  

Wednesday: 16th November: Zurrieq, Hal-Far, Safi, Zurrieq. (Scenic and historical)

 Duration:          2 to 3 hours

Rating:              Easy to Moderate with some inclines

Meeting Place: Xarolla Windmill at Zurrieq.

Time:                14:00 

 

Sunday: 20th November: The Jewels of the South

Duration:          4.5 hrs

Rating:              Moderate with a couple of medium uphills and fairly long

Meeting Place: Qrendi Church Square

Time:                9:00 a.m.

 

Sunday: 27th November: Hal-Safi to Hal-Far (Scenic and cultural)

Duration:          3.5 hrs

Rating:              Easy, with one moderately hard uphill stretch.

Meeting Place: Hal-Safi Parish Church Square

Time:                 9:00 a.m.

 

Wednesday:30th November:  Zabbar, Fgura, Cottonera (Bormla / Birgu/ Kalkara), Zabbar (Scenic and historical)

Duration:          2 to 3 hours

Rating:              Easy to Moderate with some inclines.

Meeting Place: Zabbar Parish Church.

Time:                 14:00

 

December 2016

 

Sunday: 4th December: Gnejna Bay to Kuncizzjoni (Scenic) 

Duration:           Approximately 3.5 hrs

Rating:               Moderate with some inclines and slippery, if wet

Meeting Place:   Gnejna Bay, Mgarr

Time:                  9:00 a.m.

 

Sunday: 11th December: Birzebbugia to Casa Ippolito and on to Paola. (N.B. Non-Circular, returning by bus)

Duration:           4.5 hrs

Rating:              Moderate, fairly long.

Meeting Place: St. George’s Bay, Birzebbugia

Time:                 9:00 a.m.

 

Wednesday: 14th December: Attard, Qormi, Zebbug, Attard (Scenic and historical).

Duration:          2 to 3 hours

Rating:              Easy to Moderate with some inclines.

Meeting Place:  Parish Church of Attard

Time:                 14:00

 

Sunday: 18thDecember: The Tail of the Fish

Duration:           3 to 4 hours

Rating:              Moderate

Meeting Place:  Parking area next to Police Station at Ghadira Bay.

Time:                 9:00 a.m.

 

Wednesday: 28th December:  Birzebbugia, Ghaxaq, Marsaxlokk, Birzebbugia  (Scenic and historical)

Duration:          2 to 3 hours

Rating:              Easy to Moderate with some inclines.

Meeting Place: Birzebbugia at GharDalam car park.

Time:                14:00

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Sliema High Rise Appeal

The Ramblers’ Association of Malta has filed a joint appeal with Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Friends of the Earth Malta and the Qui si-Sana Residents’ Association against the permit of the Sliema Townsquare Tower in front of the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal.

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On ‘Radical Measures’ to Protect ODZ

Ingram Bondin
Hon. Secretary
Ramblers’ Association of Malta

Appeared on The Times of Malta on the 19th of June 2016

On the 8th of June the Nationalist Party announced its new policy for projects located outside development zone (ODZ). This policy stated that these should require approval by a two-thirds majority in Parliament. The first reaction of the Ramblers’ Association based on the initial media reports was a positive one as expressed by our press release dated 10th June. So was that of a number of other environmentalist colleagues. However, over the course of the next few days, there have been a number of further qualifications which have added considerable uncertainty.

Simon Busuttil has stated his view that all major projects of national importance which are to be located in ODZ should be subject to a special procedure wherein the Planning Authority will present its recommendations to the Parliamentary Committee for the Environment and Development Planning. Following this, any Bill related to such a project would be subjected to a two-thirds vote for a maximum of two readings, after which the government will be able to pass the Bill with a simple majority.

While Ramblers agree that the failure of the Bill to pass the initial votes would attract additional public scrutiny on the issue, allowing its passage with a simple majority in the last instance undermines the entire proposal. The current proposal also seems to be implying that the Planning Authority will no longer vote on whether the project itself complies to planning policies as this function will be taken over by Parliament. However, while the Planning Authority is bound to follow planning policies, Parliament is not. In these two respects the proposal seems to me to be defective.

If this path is to be pursued, then the two-thirds majority has to remain intact for all the votes taken, and such a vote should be taken only after the Planning Authority would have deemed the project not in breach of any planning policies. In this way, the representatives of the people would have the opportunity to veto the development if they regard it as being against the interest of their constituents.

However, the Ramblers believe what is really needed to protect ODZ areas are three vital measures. The first is for two-thirds approval of any extension of the ODZ boundary, which would put as stop to the infamous rationalisation exercises, as well as to the completely spurious calls for alleged ‘injustices’ to be remedied against the public interest. The second is to amend the policies related to development in ODZ and close the various loop-holes which seem multiply with every such revision. Finally, Government should not seek to undermine the designation of ODZ areas by hiding behind the excuse that some development is a ‘national project’, allowing it to make a mockery of the entire planning process.

The only measures which are ‘radical’ enough to ensure the protection of ODZ areas are those mentioned above, and their adoption would be a serious profession of good faith towards environmentally minded citizens.

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Ramblers support PN Policy Document on ODZ

Ramblers Malta LogoPress Release by the Ramblers’ Association of Malta – 10th June 2016

The Ramblers’ Association welcomes the policy document issued by the PN for adequate protection of the ODZ. It urges the PN to remain frank to their word once in power.

The fact that Dr Busuttil acknowledged the PN’s mistakes regarding the environment in their past forebodes well. Subjecting major development outside the development zone to parliamentary scrutiny, requiring a two-thirds majority vote, binds him as well if elected Prime Minister. This is what serious politics is about, as Malta again experiences that politicians do not practice in government what they preach in opposition.

The Association has openly expressed, both in the media and during various consultation exercises, that if the old Structure Plan allowed mice to get through its loopholes, the new Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED) allows mighty elephants through with ease, as recent applications amply manifest. It is for this reason that the Ramblers’ Association has been advocating the two-thirds parliamentary majority for ODZ development with both parties for years, and cannot but accept the PN document most favourably. It joins the Civil Society Network in its support of the document.

It is encouraging to hear the leader of one of the two main parties state that his party is “aware that the environment in Malta is under serious threat” and it is high time to “draw the line and look ahead, to halt the current slippery slope towards environmental degradation and to reverse it where possible.” It has been a rough and late awakening for the PN, but an enlightened awakening.

The PL in government would do well to take stock and not remain dozed by fanciful short-term prospects sustainable only by virtue of cheaply-acquired or government-donated land. Public interest and general well-being should at all costs remain the priority of a serious administration through the safeguard of open areas, clean air and water, cultural and natural heritage.

Alex Vella

President

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Withdrawal of the Guidance document on AOCs (Areas of Containment)

The purpose of the Guidance Document originally was that the established areas in ODZ are put to a master plan that has to be followed by owners of the land within them with respect to such aspects as planning of roads, height limitations, etc.

We understand the idea of the master plan is necessary in order that such areas are rendered safe for workers and consumers alike, healthy and pleasant to work within and visit, amenable to smooth flow of traffic, provided with parking and leisure spaces, direct and easy to drive around to facilitate access, and having sufficient turning space for comfortable and safe working and visiting conditions, with incorporated landscaped areas to mitigate their positioning in the ODZ.

Such master planning is considered necessary in order that each owner is not left to his own devices to maximize his part of the land without consideration to such conditions.

Makeshift AOC’s just as many of those in existence, where each owner devised his own roads without specifications to ensure safety and health, are a blot on the environment and generate a sense of carelessness and contempt to working environments. Inversely careful planning with due respect to open countryside will generate a sense of pride to such environs.

The Authority’s justification for the withdrawal of the Guidance Document may be viewed on the Authority’s website (http://www.pa.org.mt/public-consultation) together with the guidance document ‘Way Forward. Areas of Containment Supplementary Planning Guidance, 2012’.

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TRK 155949 (EA 00009/16) – Luqa

TRK 155949 (EA 00009/16) – Construction of an elderly residence, Triq Hal-Luqa, Hal-Luqa, Malta.

In our opinion it is important that satisfactory explanations are given to the following questions before validating the project for planning considerations:

  1. Are the declared principles of the SPED and associated policies being respected by this application or is advantage being taken of the exceptions to their general rule.
  2. Why were no areas from those that were incorporated within the Development Zone by the Rationalisation Scheme 2006 considered in any part of the Site Selection Exercise? In fact these areas do not even get a mention. The principles and Thematic Objectives of the SPED 2015, the South Malta Local Plan 2006 and the Development Control Policy and Design Guidance are far better served by consideration of the Rationalisation scheme areas, many of which have not yet been projected. ODZ land is usually resorted to because it is cheaper to purchase, and the PA is obliged by its mission and mandate to stop commercialisation of rural land for urbanisation purposes.
  3. Is the loss of rural land to another private development project justified in view of the number of new social and community facilities such as homes for the elderly becoming operational by private, public/private enterprise as well as by government initiative, as are bragged about frequently on the media. It is not infrequent however that residential homes advertise space! This consideration has also to take account of recent official change in attitude to this social problem, encouraging the elderly not to move from own homesteads.

We look forward to the inclusion of the above information in the TORs for the relative EPS.

The relevant Project Description Statement is available at:  http://era.org.mt/en/Pages/TRK155949.aspx

 

 

 

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Ref. 00007/16 – TRK 163702 – Delimara

Redevelopment of an existing derelict hotel including environmentally friendly measures and provision of public ancillary facilities, at Ta’ Kalanka, Delimara.

In our opinion it is indispensable that satisfactory answers be given to the following questions before validating the project for planning considerations.
  1. How can the evident and  considerable negative impacts of over-development in a rural area, damage to sensitive ecology in an AEI/SSI, geological risk of cliff collapse and slope stability, visual and landscape deterioration, downgrading of natural bay/coastal area, etc., be economically and socially justified in the national context;
  2. The financial and land resource outlay for the proposed hotel project seem, at first glance, heavily out of proportion for future returns expected from such a small number of hotel beds. Therefore a presentation of an economic feasibility study of the hotel project in order to assess its future sustainability is warranted with a view that the same fate of the previous hotel will not befall the proposed hotel, and to ascertain that the project is not turned  turned into luxury residential block of apartments.
In short the opportunity cost in terms of ecological loss to the Maltese natural environment must be carefully weighted against the social and economic benefit to the nation, not solely to the developer/s.
We foresee a greater benefit to the nation if the existing derelict building is removed and the comprehensive threatened area protected in its ecological and scenic glory.

Relevant Project Description statement that can be found at: http://era.org.mt/en/Pages/TRK163702.aspx
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