Environmental NGOs ask whether resiting exercise is being taken seriously
Saturday 9th May 2015
The undersigned NGOs note with disappointment that the Government is already in negotiations with the owners of private land in the Zonqor area to accommodate the Jordanian investor building the presumed American University of Malta.
This contradicts the impression that was given by the Government during a last minute consultation meeting with the environmental NGOs on the eve of signing the agreement with Sadeen Group.
During this meeting, the environmental NGO were given the impression that due consideration would be given to the option of resiting the University away from the 90,000 square metres of ODZ land. This was further reinforced by statements coming from prominent members of the Government such as Environment Minister Leo Brincat.
The NGOs reiterate their position that yet more development in the countryside is unsustainable and thus unacceptable. In particular, the twisting of ODZ boundaries to accommodate large commercial developments makes a mockery of the concept of ODZ itself, whose purpose is to preserve the countryside and thus protect a common good.
It is even more disturbing that the country’s resources continue to be wasted in this manner, seeing that 1% of Malta’s total arable land will be destroyed in the process, while heritage sites lie vacant and falling to pieces. Several farmers who work the surrounding lands have already been in contact with the NGOs and expressed their worries that this will open the entire area to further development. This is not to mention that the picturesque natural beauty of the Zonqor Point area will be much diminished.
The NGOs are thus calling on the Government to clarify its position on this issue – that is, whether resiting the University is still on the cards or not, and why it is so essential for this development to be located in the countryside. The NGOs have already expressed their goodwill to help with finding an alternative site in order to prevent more ODZ land succumbing to development.
If the resiting exercise is not being taken seriously by the Government, then it would be grossly unfair to continue to waste the resources of the NGOs in this manner. It is becoming increasingly clear that the public consultation process on the University in the South so far has been no more than a cosmetic exercise, with all the eNGOs and Local Councils called in for nothing more than to legitimise a fait accompli.
The signatories to the press release are the following associations: Ramblers’ Association of Malta, Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA), Malta Organic Agriculture Movement (MOAM), Friends of the Earth Malta (FoE) and the TerraFirma Collective.