Konsultazzjoni ODZ: il-fehma ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

ODZ.MEPA

Dan hu id-dokument bis-sottomissjonijiet li Alternattiva Demokratika ippreżentat lill-MEPA il-bieraħ fil-proċess ta’ konsultazzjoni dwar l-iżvilupp fl-ODZ, jiġifieri x’jista’ jinbena barra miż-żona tal-iżvilupp :

Politika u Gwida dwar diżinn barra miż-żona ta’ żvilupp

Il-kummenti ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

Alternattiva Demokratika eżaminat id-dokument ippubblikat mill-MEPA għall-konsultazzjoni pubblika, liema dokument huwa ntitolat  Outside Development Zone Policy and Design Guidance.

Id-dokument jipproponi  l-konsolidazzjoni b’emendi sostanzjali tal-politika kurrenti applikabbli għall-bini agrikolu kif ukoll għaż-żona barra l-iżvilupp.

Fid-dokument in kwistjoni hemm 38  policy differenti.

Id-dokument jagħmel proposti varji dwar l-użu mill-ġdid jew l-iżvilupp mill-ġdid ta’ strutturi eżistenti barra ż-żona ta’ żvilupp. Jintroduċi ukoll proposti dwar il-kostruzzjoni  ta’ strutturi li s’issa ma kienx possibli li jinbnew skond il-politika kurrenti ta’ l-ippjanar ta’ l-użu tal-art.

Id-dokument jonqos milli jikkwantifika u jillokalizza dawk iż-żoni barra miż-żona ta’ l-iżvilupp fejn hemm bini li oriġinalment kien intenzjonat għal skop agrikolu iżda m’għadux użat. In partikolari id-dokument ma jidentifikax fejn hemm żoni f’Malta u Għawdex fejn hemm ammont sinifikanti ta’ bini agrikolu abbandunat.

B’mod speċifiku Alternattiva Demokratika jidhrilha li huwa essenzjali illi jkun kwantifikat kemm hemm bini agrikolu li m’għadux użat.  L-anqas studji dwar l-ammont ta’ bini illegali użat fil-qasam tal-agrikultura ma hu għad disposizzjoni tal-proċess ta’ konsultazzjoni. Il-politika dwar iż-żona barra l-linja tal-iżvilupp ftit għandha siwi jekk din l-informazzjoni ma tkunx magħrufa.

Kien ikun ta’ għajnuna kieku ingħatat stampa ċara u dokumentata tal-impatti li irriżultaw mill-qagħda attwali tal-industrija tat-trobbija tal-majjal u tat-tjur. Jekk dawn l-istudji saru ma jmisshomx inżammu għall-użu intern tal-MEPA iżda kellhom ikunu ippubblikati biex il-proċess ta’ konsultazzjoni jkun infurmat adegwatament dwar il-konsiderazzjonijiet li saru fit-tfassil tal-politika soġgett għal konsultazzjoni pubblika.

Kien ukoll ikun għaqli kieku l-MEPA iġġustifikat il-proposti tagħha dwar l-agrituriżmu. Il-proposta li tippermetti l-bini ta’ għaxart ikmamar li ma jeċċedux l-area ta’ erba’ mitt metru kwadru hi meqjusa waħda esaġerata. Ikun għaqli li wieħed josserva illi fl-Italja fejn l-istat ilu jinkoraġixxi u jappoġġa l-agri-turiżmu għal ta’ l-inqas dawn l-aħħar 25 sena id-daqs medju ta’ servizz offrut minn faċilita ta’ agri-turiżmu hi ta’ 10 sodod, li approssimattivament hi n-nofs ta’ dak rakkomandat mid-dokument ta’ konsultazzjoni.

Dan kollu qiegħed jingħad għax Alternattiva Demokratika hi tal-fehma li l-użu mill-ġdid jew l-iżvilupp mill-ġdid inkluż il-bdil ta’ użu ta’ bini agrikolu eżistenti  li mhux użat biżżejjed inkella hu abbandunat hu pass pożittiv li għandu jkun inkoraġġit. Dan għandu japplika għal dak l-użu kompatibbli mal-agrikultura, inkluż proġetti ta’ agri-turiżmu. Filwaqt li dan it-tip ta’ użu kien diġa permissibli id-dokument li dwaru qed isir konsultazzjoni jagħmel dan iktar ċar.

Alternattiva Demokratika hi tal-fehma li kien ikun ferm aħjar kieku id-dokument ta’ konsultazzjoni inkoraġixxa l-użu mill-ġdid ta’ bini eżistenti (mibni legalment) qabel ma ippropona politika li tinkoraġixxi żvilupp ta’ art verġni barra miż-żona tal-iżvilupp.  Malta ma tiflaħx għall-impatti li jirriżultaw minn żvilupp ta’ iktar art agrikola. L-anqas ma tiflaħ għall-impatti li jirriżultaw jekk l-industrija spekulattiv tittrasferixxi lilha innifisha miz-zoni urbani għal dawk agrikoli. Sfortunatament id-dokument ta’ konsultazzjoni jinkoraġixxi dan permezz tad-diversi proposti dwar il-permissibilita ta’ kostruzzjoni ta’ strutturi ġodda barra miż-żona tal-iżvilupp.

Id-dokument ta’ konsultazzjoni jonqos milli jipproponi kif il-framentazzjoni tar-raba’ użat għall-agrikultura tista’ tkun miġġielda. Fil-fatt bil-proposta li jiffaċilita aċċessi ġodda fiż-żoni agrikoli id-dokument jinkoraġixxi li jsir eżattament bil-maqlub. Jekk l-importanza stateġika tal-agrikultura għall-ekonomija Maltija ser tkun indirizzata din il-frammentazzjoni mhux biss trid tieqaf imma teħtieġ illi titreġġa lura.  Id-dokument ta’ konsultazzjoni jipproponi direzzjoni kompletament differenti u dan billi jinkoraġixxi w jiffaċilita l-frammentazzjoni .

Id-dokument jonqos ukoll milli jiffaċilita l-implimentazzjoni ta’ proposti li saru fi studji fi snin preċedenti dwar il-ġenerazzjoni ta’ enerġija elettrika mill-iskart agrikolu. Din hi materja li teħtieġ li tkun indirizzata b’mod urgenti u dan id-dokument kien il-post addattat fejn dan seta jsir. Bl-applikazzjoni tal-prinċipju tal-prossimita  kien ikun ta’ benefiċċju kieku tfasslu proposti li bħala riżultat tagħhom l-iskart tal-annimali ma jibqax ittrasportat fit-toroq arterjali imma jkun minflok ipproċessat l-iktar viċin possibli ta’ fejn ikun iġġenerat.  Hemm żoni agrikoli kemm f’Malta kif ukoll f’Għawdex fejn hemm konċentrazzjoni ta’ binjiet li fihom jitrabbew l-annimali. F’dawn iż-żoni dawn it-tip ta’ faċilitajiet għandhom mhux biss ikun permissibli, talli għandhom ikunu inkoraġġiti. Proposti ta’ din ix-xorta jwasslu għal prattiċi ta’ immaniġjar sostenibbli tal-iskart u jgħinu biex jitnaqqas sostanzjalment il-piz fuq is-sistema tad-drenaġg kif ukoll fuq it-tlett impjanti għat-tisfija tad-drenaġġ.

AD kienet tistenna li d-dokument ta’ konsultazzjoni jemfasizza l-ħtieġa li l-bini illegali barra miż-żona tal-iżvilupp jitwaqqa’. Alternattiva Demokratika tittama li dan id-dokument ma jservix biex jiġġustifika t-tkattir ta’ workshops (sprayers, panel beaters ….) jew vilel barra miż-żona tal-iżvilupp.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan Alternattiva Demokratika hi tal-fehma li id-dokument ta’ konsultazzjoni jeħtieġ reviżjoni sostanzjali jekk għandu jkun konformi mal-prinċipji tal-iżvilupp sostenibbli.

Carmel Cacopardo                                                             Simon Galea

Kelliemi għall-Iżvilupp Sostenibbli                             Kelliemi għall-Agrikultura

4 ta’ Diċembru 2013

id-document tal-MEPA intitolat : Outside Development Zones. Policy and Design Guidance.

issibu hawn.

The risk of being ill-prepared

Hurricane Sandy swept through the states of New York and New Jersey making it clear to all that the forces of nature, amplified and stronger as a result of climate change, will spare no one.

The impacts of climate change are here for all to see. The destructive power of nature is being made incrementally worse by a warming climate. In 2012, it was Hurricane Sandy that wreaked havoc on New York and New Jersey. In 2005, it was Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans.

The havoc left behind in New York and New Jersey has been documented by the visual media. Less evident was the damage and misery in Haiti and neighbouring Caribbean countries.

Nature does not discriminate; it does not distinguish between rich and poor. Nor does it distinguish between developed and undeveloped countries. It sweeps away all that lies in its path.

Large areas of New York were without electricity. Over 40,000 New Yorkers were homeless as a result of Hurricane Sandy. This made the news.

However, disaster-stricken Haiti has been hit much harder. More than 200,000 Haitians already in makeshift homes as a result of the 2010 earthquake are now homeless.

A cholera outbreak in Haiti could be made worse by floods. Haiti, which is an agricultural economy, has also suffered a large loss of crops. This will lead to food shortages compounding the misery of an already impoverished nation.

Meteorologists have commented that more hurricanes are occurring late in the season, even after their “normal” season has ended. A 2008 study had pointed out that the Atlantic hurricane season seems to be starting earlier and lasting longer.

Normally, there are 11 named Atlantic storms. The past two years have seen 19 and 18 named storms. This year, with one month to go, there are already 19 named storms.

It is not only in the Atlantic that the climate is changing. Earlier this month, the Meteorological Office informed us that, in Malta, October 2012 was the sixth hottest month on record since 1922. With an increased frequency we too are witnessing more intense storms, which are playing havoc with an ill-prepared infrastructure.

The civil protection issues resulting from flooding will be hopefully addressed through storm-water relief projects substantially funded by the EU. While this will go a long way towards reducing damage to life and limb, it addresses the effects while leaving the causes of flooding largely unaddressed.

Malta’s climate change adaptation strategy, adopted some time ago, had pointed towards the issue of rainwater harvesting, which has not and still is not given due importance in new developments both those on a large scale as well as those on a much smaller scale.

The lack of application of rainwater harvesting measures through the construction of appropriately-sized water cisterns is an important contributor to the flooding of Malta’s roads and the overflowing public sewers whenever a storm comes our way. This occurs irrespective of the severity of the storm. Addressing this cause would go a long way towards reducing the volume of storm water that has to be contained to prevent it from causing damage.

By now it should be clear that there is no political will to address the issue as such a measure would entail taking action against developers (large and small) who did not provide rainwater harvesting facilities in their quest to increase profits (or reduce costs) in their land development projects. This has been the unfortunate practice for the past 50 years. Old habits die hard.

The expenses required to tackle a principal cause of the problem has been shifted from the developers onto the public purse, this including the EU funds being utilised. This expense has to make good for the accumulated (and accumulating) incompetence in rainwater management by focusing on the effects but simultaneously ignoring the causes.

Therefore, when one speaks on the devastating impacts of nature and climate change it should be realised that some of these impacts are being amplified as a result of the way in which successive governments have mismanaged this country’s resources.

The impacts of flooding are the ones which leave a lasting impression due to their detailed documentation by the media. There are, however, other impacts that are as important and in respect of which a public debate is conspicuously absent. I refer in particular to the impact of rising temperatures on agriculture and health.

Higher temperatures will slowly change our agriculture as the type of crops that can withstand higher temperatures are generally different from those which are currently prevalent. In addition, higher temperatures means that we will have some alien insects flying around, some of which are disease carriers.

Not discussing these issues does not mean that they will disappear. It only means that we are ill-prepared for the inevitable impacts and the necessary changes.

There is much to be done. So far, we have barely scratched the surface.

Published in The Times of Malta Saturday November 10, 2012