Simon’s ODZ bluff

Simon Busuttil.Zonqor2

 

20 January is the closing date for the submission of expressions of interest in response to the call by the Privatisation Unit for the setting up of a Motorsports complex in Malta.

During the press conference that launched the call on 29 September, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport Chris Agius emphasised the fact that the choice of location was up to the investors presenting the submissions, even though several sites were proposed in the consultation process leading up to the call for expressions of interest.

However, Sam Collins, writing on 25 April last year on an online motor-racing guide, under the heading Malta eyes Formula 1 with new circuit stated that a “110 hectare parcel of land has been earmarked for the development.”  It is pretty obvious that the as yet unidentified  “110 hectare parcel of land” to be used for this proposed motorsports complex will be situated outside the development zone (ODZ). Each hectare consists of 10,000 square metres, meaning that 110 hectares equals one million, one hundred thousand square metres.

Sam Collins describes the proposal in this manner: “The government documents relating to the circuit’s development point out that part of its purpose would be to attract major international racing series, including Formula 3 and similar classes. The proposed facility would also include facilities for concerts, conferencing and a racing school. A hotel and museum of motoring and transport heritage would also be built on site. Road safety and driver training would play a major part in the facility’s layout, with a dedicated area for these activities. A CIK Kart circuit would also be built alongside the main track.”

The basic question which had to be addressed – but which most obviously has not been addressed so far – is whether Malta can afford to waste this much land. The answer, in my opinion, irrespective of the number of motor-racing car enthusiasts on the island, is clear and unequivocal: Malta cannot waste any more of its limited land.

The sites that have been possibly earmarked are limited in number, as Malta’s size does not present too many options and the impact of the selected site will be substantial, irrespective of its current use.

Development on the  parcel of land selectedcould have a substantial impact on areas of ecological importance that are protected either in terms of local policy or else as a result of EU or international commitments. Knowing that most of the undeveloped land along Malta’s coastline from Bengħajsa right up to Ċirkewwa is protected for ecological purposes, this could be the case, particularly if the identified parcel of land is close to the coast.

The impact could be further increased in view of the possible proximity of the selected parcel of land to residential areas. A specific area, mentioned consistently through the grapevine, would lump these impacts on Malta’s political south, further adding to the disregard for residents’ quality of life in the region accumulated over the years.

There are, therefore, three issues on the basis of which the proposed facility is objectionable: firstly, that Malta is too small for such a development; secondly, that the environmental impact will be substantial and thirdly, that the neighbouring residents’ quality of life, as well as biodiversity and natural resources, will be bartered for short term economic gain.

Depending on the precise eventual location, it may be possible to mitigate and reduce the impact on residents. However, it is most probable that a reduced impact on residents would signify increased impact on natural resources and biodiversity. In my opinion, this signifies that even on the drawing board the project should have been a non-starter.

In recent months we have had the Żonqor “University” debacle. A major sticking point in that case was that the original proposal was to use land situated outside the ODZ and public opinion’s unifying reaction was “No to ODZ development”.

The Parliamentary Opposition, both inside and outside Parliament, took a clear stand against the ODZ Development proposed at Żonqor. Yet in the case of the proposed motor track facility, the Opposition Spokesperson on Sport, David Agius, was invited to be present when the call for expressions of interest was launched. His presence confirms that, notwithstanding Simon Busuttil’s solemn declarations on the sanctity of ODZ land, the proposal for the (ODZ) motor track facility enjoys bipartisan support.

Which means that Simon’s talk on ODZ is just bluff.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 3 January 2016

Advertisements

Marsaskala teħtieġ il-latrini

Sadeen clientelism

 

Ma nafx kif ma staħax is-Sindku ta’ Marsaskala iħabbar waqt laqgħa tal-Kunsill li wasal fi ftehim mal-Grupp Sadeen li ser jibni l-uffiċini l-ġodda tal-Kunsill fi Ġnien Santa Tereża. Il-Grupp Sadeen qed jippjana li jibni l-Università Amerikana taż-Żonqor

Jidher li is-Sindku wasal fi ftehim dwar iktar għajnuna din id-darba infrastrutturali: fosthom il-bini ta’ żewġ latrini.

Ovvjament jidher li ser ikun hemm bżonnhom il-latrini f’Marsaskala.

 

 

 

Moskeja fiż-Żonqor : rigal ieħor ta’ Joseph?

Students at the Muslim Youth Academy pray before celebrating the holy holiday Eid al-Adha in 2007 by reenacting the hajj and a visit to Mecca. Dressed in all white, the 300+ students chanted and walked around the halls of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn and circled a cube representing the Kaaba, a holy site in Mecca that all Muslims face when praying. The hajj brings together Muslims of all races for one of life's most moving spiritual experiences. (Photo by Millard Berry)

Joseph tkellem ħafna dwar kemm il-campus tal-Università għandu jitqies bħala r-rigal tal-Gvern tiegħu lill-Bormla.

L-Independent illum iżda titkellem dwar rigal ieħor li dwaru Joseph ma qal xejn.

L-istudju dwar l-impatti soċjali tas-sit li hu propost li jkun żviluppat fiż-Żonqor jgħid dan li ġej :

“This SIA also recommends that since it is anticipated that most students will profess the Islamic religion the campus also includes a Mosque for prayers.”

Min-naħa l-oħra l-istudju dwar l-impatt soċjali f’Bormla ma jikkunsidrax li hemm bżonn Moskeja f’Bormla minħabba li l-istudenti hemm jistgħu jinqdew bil-Moskeja ta’ Kordin. Fil-fatt l-istudju jgħid hekk :

“ ……. it is worth noting that those students who may profess the Islamic religion are serviced with a Mosque at Corradino which is located just up the hill from Cospicua and Senglea.”

Verament li l-istudji ta’ Joseph jaħsbu għal kollox. Anke għal Moskeja fiż-Żonqor.

Prosit. L-istudji ta’ Joseph jaħsbu għal kulħadd!

 

Ir-rigal ta’ Bormla

University at Dock One

 

X’ser tieħu Bormla minn l-Università Amerikana?

Bla dubju r-restawr taż-żona madwar il-Baċir numru wieħed ser ikun l-ewwel akkwist. Probabbilment ukoll li bini mitluq f’Bormla jkun hemm inċentiv illi jkun irranġat u eventwalment jinkera lill-barranin li jiffrekwentaw il-fakultajiet tal-Università fil-Baċir numru wieħed . Kemm l-istudenti kif ukoll xi għalliema.

Fl-Imsida per eżempju hemm kwantità ta’ flats li jinkrew lill-istudenti Għawdxin. L-istess hu mistenni li jiġri f’Bormla.

L-istudenti li joqgħdu f’dawn il-flats ovvjament iridu jieklu. Ser jixtru prinċipalment mill-ħwienet f’Bormla. Xi ftit jiddevertu ukoll. Kemm f’Bormla kif ukoll f’inhawi oħra fil-viċin u l-bogħod.

Meta l-Università fil-Baċir tilħaq il-massimu ta’ studenti probabbilment li jkun fiha madwar 1,200 student (il-kumplament ikunu Iż-Żonqor). Bla dubju, 1,200 ruħ jagħtu kontribut kbir lill-ekonomija ta’ Bormla, fil-flats, restaurants, ħwienet u barijiet.

Imma jkun meħtieġ li jsibulhom l-ispażju. Għax iktar ma jkun hemm studenti li joqgħodu f’Bormla inqas joħolqu problema ta’ traffiku! Ovvjament mhux ser ikunu kirjiet baxxi. Probabbilment id-domanda li dawn l-istudenti jiġġeneraw biex jikru toqba fejn joqgħodu jkollha xi ftit effett fuq il-kirjiet eżistenti. Imma dak għadu ftit kmieni għalissa.

Kemm ilu li tħabbar il-proġett digà hemm min beda jfittex u jippjana kif jista’ jdawwar lira (jew ewro)!

Dan l-investiment jidher li hu idea tal-kuntrattur mill-Jordan Hani Hasan Naji Al Salah. Ser tkun Università bi ħlas.

Li jibqa’ hu li jkun magħruf minn fejn ġejjin l-istudenti. F’kummenti li Hani Hasan Naji Al Salah kien ta’ lis-Sunday Times nhar it-3 ta’ Mejju li għadda kien qalilna li dawn ġejjin mill-Lvant Nofsani, mill-Afrika ta’ Fuq kif ukoll mill-Ewropa.

Imma l-website tal-Università DePaul ta’ Chicago, li qed tassisti lil investitur mill-Ġordan biex jitfasslu l-korsijiet Universitarji ma issemix studenti Ewropej iżda tgħid li din l-Università ser tkun għal studenti mill-Afrika ta’ Fuq, mill-Ġolf, expats u oħrajn li jfittxu edukazzjoni stil Amerikan.

Issa naraw. Wara kollox dan hu rigal għal Bormla.

 

Il-Gvern iċċaqlaq ……….. għax sab l-iebes

Zonqor protest.200615.05jpg

 

Il-mod kif il-Gvern ħa id-deċiżjoni dwar l-Università Amerikana juri biċ-ċar li m’għandux idea tal-obbligi ambjentali tiegħu. Għax kieku kellu l-iċken idea kien jimxi b’mod differenti. Il-konsultazzjoni neċessarja kien jagħmilha qabel ma jiddeċiedi u mhux wara li għaffiġha.

Id-deċiżjoni oriġinali kienet ħażina. Bid-deċiżjoni reveduta li tħabbret il-bieraħ l-Gvern ġabar ftit ġieħu.

Ir-reviżjoni saret biss u esklussivament minħabba li s-soċjetà ċivili fetħet ħalqha.

M’huwiex possibli li tikkonkludi minn każ wieħed jekk dan ifissirx li l-Gvern immexxi minn Joseph Muscat huwiex ser jibda jagħti każ ta’ x’jaħseb il-lobby ambjentali. Dan inkunu nistgħu nikkonkluduh wara li jkollna xi żewġ każijiet oħra.

Irridu naraw per eżempju dwar kemm il-Gvern ser jagħti każ tal-proposti tal-lobby ambjentali dwar il-liġijiet preżentement pendenti quddiem il-Parlament. Irridu ukoll naraw xi proposti ser isiru meta fix-xhur li ġejjin ikunu ippubblikati l-abbozzi ta’ pjani lokali.

Jiena naħseb li l-Gvern kontinwament ser jipprova jevita l-obbligi ambjentali tiegħu. Jekk isib resistenza jaġġusta l-posizzjoni tiegħu skond ir-resistenza li jsib.

Għalhekk hu importanti li s-soċjetà ċivili tibqa’ viġilanti għax ser niffaċċjaw battalja wara l-oħra. Min jaqta’ nifsu l-ewwel jitlef.

Ippubblikat fuq l-Illum il-Ħadd 23 t’Awwissu 2015

 

Ma tagħmilx kompromess bi ħwejjeġ ħaddieħor

Zonqor proposal

L-aħbar li parti mill-Università Amerikana taż-Żonqor issa sejra fiż-Żona tal-Baċir numru 1 f’Bormla kienet aħbar tajba. Din kienet deċiżjoni ta’ kuraġġ li għalkemm ġiet tard għandna nkunu kuntenti biha. Hi deċiżjoni li ser tagħmel il-ġid lill-Bormla. Mhux biss għax ser tkompli l-proċess tar-riġenerazzjoni ta’ din il-Belt imma ukoll għax ser tħajjar lil dawk bi propjetà madwar il-baċir biex huma ukoll jipparteċipaw f’dan il-process.

Jibqa’ l-iżvilupp fiż-Żonqor li naqas sostanzjalment minn kif kien propost oriġinalment.

Hu tajjeb li 13,000 metru kwadru ġoż-zona tal-iżvilupp fiż-Żonqor ser jiffurmaw parti mill-proġett. Imma hu ħażin li l-bqija u ċjoe 18,000 metru kwadru ta’ żvilupp ser isiru ODZ, barra miż-żona ta’ żvilupp.

Wieħed għad irid jeżamina b’iktar reqqa l-impatti fuq ir-residenti ta’ Marsaskala b’mod partikolari taż-żona residenzjali (dormitorju) tal-Università. Bla dubju ser ikun hemm impatti mhux mixtieqa fuq ir-residenti ta’ Marsaskala simili ghal dawk li jġarrbu ir-residenti tas-Swieqi mill-istudenti tal-Ingliz.

Tajjeb li l-Gvern iċċaqlaq mill-posizzjoni tiegħu. Semgħa dak li qalet is-soċjetà ċivili. Iżda mhux biżżejjed. Wara kollox ma tagħmilx kompromess bi ħwejjeġ ħaddieħor.

Ir-rapport tal-MEPA dwar iż-Żonqor: kif isiru l-affarijiet kieku jsiru bis-serjetà

iz-zonqor.wied_ilghajn_project_map

Tiftakru dak ir-rapport tal-MEPA dwar iż-Żonqor, fejn awturi fantażma qalu li ż-Żonqor seta jkun ikkunsidrat għall-iżvilupp ta’ Università Amerikana?

Il-konklużjoni ta’ (kważi) kulħadd kienet li ma kien hemm l-ebda serjetà fit-tfassil tar-rapport, u li kien ikun aħjar għall-MEPA u l-kredibilità tagħha kieku qagħdet il-bogħod u ma daħlitx bħal żatat fejn ma kienx postha.

Il-bieraħ fir-Renju Unit wara stħarriġ ta’ sentejn u nofs u nefqa ta’ £stg 20 miljun [għoxrin miljun sterlina] kien ippubblikat rapport imsejjaħ Airports Commission: Final Report. F’dan ir-rapport kummissjoni maħtura mill-Gvern tar-Renju Unit kellha l-inkarigu li teżamina l-kapaċita’ tal-ajruporti li jservu Londra u l-impatti tal-espansjoni potenzjali ta’ tnejn minnhom. Il- kummissjoni kienet mistennija tagħti parir dwar jekk għandux ikun kostruwit it-tielet runway fl-ajruport ta’ Heathrow inkella jekk kellux ikun kostruwit runway addizzjonali fl-ajruport ta’ Gatwick.

Iċ-Ċhairman tal-kummissjoni Sir Howard Davies, fid-daħla għal rapport ta’ 344 paġna jagħmel din id-dikjarazzjoni:

“Il-benefiċċji tal-avjazzjoni jgawdihom kulħadd, filwaqt li l-piż ambjentali tagħhom jintrefgħu mill-ftit. Għal dawk li joqgħodu ħdejhom l-ajruporti huma ġirien storbjużi, b’kilba għal ħafna art.”  

(The considerable benefits of aviation accrue to the many, while the environmental costs are borne by the (relatively) few. For those who live near them airports are noisy neighbours and are greedy for space.)

Essenzjalment dan il-kumment jgħodd għal kull proġett li jkun ippjanat. Għalhekk isiru l-istudji, biex ikunu identifikati l-impatti negattivi tal-proġett bl-iskop li, fejn possibli, dawn ikunu indirizzati. Fejn minkejja kull sforz (ġenwin) l-impatti jibqgħu hemm, wieħed imbagħad ikun irid jara jekk il-proġett ikunx għadu ġustifikabbli.

Ir-rapport jirrakkomanda li jkun ikkunsidrat l-espansjoni tal-ajruport ta’ Heathrow permezz tal-kostruzzjoni tat-tielet runway imma jorbot din ir-rakkomandazzjoni ma’ lista twila ta’ kundizzjonijiet ambjentali.

Il-Gvern (tar-Renju Unit) għad irid jieħu deċiżjoni. Imma l-kontroversja għadha fil-bidu nett. Hemm diversi membri parlamentari tal-Gvern li diġà esprimew ruħhom kontra l-proposta, fosthom numru ta’ MPs prominenti.

Ir-rapport ta’ 344 paġna, li diġa hu voluminuż, hu supplimentat b’numru kbir ta’ rapport tekniċi li jikkunsidraw diversi aspetti tal-impatti ambjentali , soċjali u ekonomiċi. Impatti fuq in-negozju u impatti fuq il-kwalita’ tal-arja. Impatti fuq il-klima, kif ukoll l-impatti fuq ir-residenti lokali. Impatti fuq it-trasport fil-lokalità kif ukoll eżami tal-validità tal-previżjonijiet diversi tat-traffiku tal-ajru ġġenerat. L-impatti fuq l-ekonomija lokali u l-impatti fuq l-ekonomija nazzjonali. L-impiegi w ix-xogħol iġġenerat.  L-impatt fuq il-kwalità tal-ħajja, is-saħħa u “equality impact assessment”.

Dan kollu u iktar hu mfisser f’eluf ta’ paġni biex il-Gvern tar-Renju Unit ikun jista’ jieħu deċiżjoni infurmata, imma ukoll biex is-soċjeta’ ċivili tkun tista’ tagħmel il-kontrolli neċessarji li l-analiżi qed issir sewwa u b’mod professjonali.

Dan kollu eventwalment ikun segwit ukoll bi studju dwar l-impatti ambjentali (environment impact assessment) skond jekk jintagħżilx Heathrow jew Gatwick.

Ma kienx ħaqqu iż-Żonqor u r-residenti ta’ Marsaskala li l-proġett propost ikun ikkunsidrat ftit fid-dettall, ankè f’dan l-istadju?

Mhux ta’ b’xejn li l-awturi tar-rapport stħaw juru wiċċhom!

The compromise which can never be accepted

iz-Zonqor 2

 

The Prime Minister is seeking a compromise which will allow him to proceed with the rape of  Żonqor. It will be acceptable to all bar the extremists the Prime Minister was reported as saying.

The compromise sought by the Prime Minister will be such that instead of facilitating the rape of 90,000 square metres of agricultural land at Iż-Żonqor, he may opt for a smaller agricultural area to be ruined. That is, instead of placing all the university campus at Iż-Żonqor, only part of it will be so sited, for the time being.

Is this meant to elicit a thank you? Thank You for what?

This is a government which hears but does not listen.  It has certainly heard the public outcry against the development of ODZ land. But it has not listened to,  nor has it apparently understood, the reasons which justify this outcry.

If this were a government which listens, in addition to hearing,  it would understand that the objection runs far deeper and is not limited to the site area. It is an objection in principle to the development of ODZ land.

The proposed compromise is not acceptable as there ought to be no messing about with principles, not even if there is economic gain.  The economic gain indicated is just one side of the equation. It can never justify the environmental and social losses. The only possible solution is to relocate the whole project towards other areas where the economic gains made either create no environmental and social costs or else their magnitude is insignificant. Obviously there will be economic fundamentalists who would always prefer ODZ land as this minimises the financial costs of the project, the only costs which really interest them.

ODZ  means Outside the Development Zone. It is not some flexible boundary that can be adjusted  to suit the whims of the emperor.  The demarcation line between the Development Zone and beyond has been moved quite often in the past.  In the process,  large tracts of agriculture land was devoured by a concrete jungle.

The development of Iż-Żonqor will be an injustice which will shift more resources of the nation to the wealthy, in the process robbing the local farmers of their dignity. The farmers tilling the land at iż-Żonqor have their social and spiritual roots embedded deep in the soil. They are an integral part of the land which they take care of on behalf of all of us Maltese people.

Last week, over 3,000 Maltese citizens gathered in Valletta to protest against the Żonqor project. They did this because they believe that our natural heritage is our common responsibility. Iż-Żonqor is part of our common home on which we all depend physically and emotionally.

Iż-Żonqor is part of the logic of receptivity. It is on loan to the present generation which must pass it on to the next generation. Defending the countryside is our common responsibility which we will shoulder together. On this basis, there is no room for compromise Mr Prime Minister. Focus elsewhere and leave Iż-Żonqor alone.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 28 June 2015

Estremist jew …………….. imdawwar bil-poodles

poodles 2

 

Ġieli qalulna ukoll fundamentalisti. L-aħħar titlu hu estremisti. Hekk irrappurtat it-Times online illum diskors dal-għodu ta’ Joseph Muscat. L-Independent min-naħa l-oħra  uża l-kelma “absolutism”.  Il-Malta Today irrappurtat dak li ntqal b’video li jaqbel ma dak li qalet l-Independent.

Ir-realtà hi li l-valur tal-ekoloġija hu wieħed assolut. Għalhekk din l-opposizzjoni li bdiet u nittama li ma tieqafx.  Il-ħerba ekoloġika madwarna qed tikber kontinwament, għax hawn wisq politiċi irresponsabbli bħal Joseph Muscat jiġru mas-saqajn. Tkun irresponsabbli jekk tħares sal-ponta ta’ mnieħrek. Jekk tħares lejn il-gwadann immedjat u tinjora, jew aħjar tagħlaq għajnejk għall-ħsara irreparabbli li qed tiżviluppa bil-mod u fit-tul.

Il-proposta tal-hekk imsejjaħ kompromess li qed jimbotta ftit ftit Joseph Muscat, fis-sens li jibni biss parti mill-campus tal-“Università” fiz-Zonqor u l-kumplament x’imkien ieħor hi proposta irresponsabbli. Għax jekk Muscat qed jagħraf li hemm validità fl-argument li l-Università għandha titbiegħed miż-Żonqor, din għandha titbiegħed kompletament. Mhux biċċa biss biex taparsi kien qed jisma’.

Tajjeb li l-Gvern jisma’. Imma hu iktar importanti li jagħti każ. Li ma tkunx trid  tisma’ hu ħażin. Imma li tisma’ u ma tagħtix każ hu agħar għax turi li taparsi qed tisma’.

Pajjiżna ma jistax jitlef iktar raba’. Tilef iktar minn biżżejjed tul is-snin. Dak li ntilef ma jistax jinġieb lura.

Ir-raba’ taż-Żonqor m’huwiex biss sors ta’ għajxien għall-bdiewa. Huwa ukoll bejta tal-bijodiversità li qed tinqered ftit ftit.

Li topponi li l-ġungla tal-konkos jibla iktar raba’ m’huwiex estremiżmu. Huwa sens ta’ responsabbiltà kbira favur żvilupp sostenibbli. Għax l-iżvilupp għaqli m’huwiex li tibni iktar imma li tkun kapaċi tutilizza dak li hu diġa mibni biex taqdi l-ħtiġijiet tal-lum.

Dan ma jgħoddx biss għaż-Żonqor imma jgħodd ukoll għall-iskejjel li trid tibni l-Knisja f’Ħal-Ghaxaq. Ankè dawk, m’għandhomx jinbnew. Għandhom jinstabu soluzzjonijiet oħra, avolja diffiċli.

It-titlu ta’ estrimist fejn jidħol l-ambjent xejn ma jdejjaqni. L-importanti l-konsistenza li min huwa mdawwar bil-poodles m’għandux idea xi tkun.

Titfaċċa l-kuxjenza l-ħadra tal-PN

Environment

Fid-diskussjoni pubblika li għaddejja dwar l-Università taż-Żonqor f’Marsaskala nieħu pjaċir nosserva li ħafna illum qed iqiesu ruħom bħala li huma favur l-ambjent.  Dan irrispettivament mill-passat li ġejjin minnu. Inkluż passat li jikkuntrasta mal-posizzjonijiet li jieħdu llum.

Il-passat għadda, jgħidulek. Spiċċa.

Verissimu. L-passat għadda.

Imma min jinsa’ l-passat ikun qed jikkundanna lilu innifsu biex jerġa’ jgħixu. Għax għandu ħabta kif jirrepeti ruħu dan l-imbierek passat!

Fi ftit kliem hu faċli li l-Partit Nazzjonalista jiskopri kuxjenza ambjentali waqt li qiegħed fl-Opposizzjoni. Ir-realta hi li meta l-iktar kellu bzonnha din il-kuxjenza ambjentali ma kienet tidher imkien!

Opportuniżmu? Ma tarax! Probabbilment li konverzjoni! Din hi r-realta’ tal-ħajja! Il-PN wiċċu u sormu xorta.