The Proposed Natural Park : A Bad Deal for the People of Malta
Secretary of the Ramblers’ Association of Malta
Since the first week of May, information about the ‘American University of Malta’ has been gradually trickling out to the public. During the initial announcement, the Prime Minister indicated that a natural park would also be set up in the vicinity of this University. Although this was cheekily presented as a ‘compromise’ between developers and environmentalists, many immediately realised that the natural park was there just to sweeten the fact that ODZ boundaries would once again be twisted for this special investor.
To really understand what is happening though, one would do well to look at the Local Plan for the south of Malta, in particular the ‘Marsascala North’ plan. This Local Plan allocates a huge swathe of countryside for a national park. This means that the park which is being proposed by the Government is not a concession to the people of Malta, but is something which is already provided for by the Local Plan. Moreover, the Government is not declaring all of the area identified by the Local Plan as a natural park, but will only be allocating part of this land for this purpose. What will happen to the extra land? Is there a plan for it to be released for speculative purposes in the future? Whatever the case, the Maltese people are not getting as good a deal as provided for by the Local Plan.
Even worse is what one discovers when one overlays the site of the American University (as revealed by Caroline Muscat on the 10th of May on the Times of Malta Online) on the Local Plan. One then realises that the American University will be situated on land which the Local Plan in fact allocates to the natural park. Thus, not only is the natural park not a compensation for building the University on ODZ land, but the development itself will be occurring on land which the Local Plan allocates to a natural park.
The situation is thus a very disappointing one. While the Maltese people are being cheated out of parts of the natural park which the Local Plan provides for them, everything is being presented as if this was a real conquest for our environment. This is hardly an honest way to relate to the citizens of this country, especially regarding a project already surrounded with what an unkind soul would call deliberately misleading information.
Published on the 15th of May 2015 on the Times of Malta