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

 

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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.

 

 

 

Muscat’s priorities : the environment not included

Labour u l-Ambjent

 

The manner in which the government is handling the Żonqor University issue is a failure in environmental governance. It is a mishandling of Malta’s natural resources.

How can the government say that the feasibility of the Żonqor project depends on the low monetary value of the ODZ land and expect to be taken seriously? Is this not placing the profits of the Jordanian businessman above everything else, including Malta’s interests?

After the government signed a preliminary agreement with Jordanian businessman Hani Hasan N Salah on what has been labelled as the “American University of Malta” (at Żonqor Point) civil society erupted. The site site earmarked for development will gobble up thousands of square metres of agricultural land. Earlier this week, Joseph Muscat  tried to minimise the impact by stating that only one per cent of the agricultural land to be taken up for the project is used for growing crops. He was immediately rubbished by the farmers themselves who told the Independent on Friday that most of the agricultural land in question was, in fact, used to produce potatoes for the export market.

The term ODZ (Outside Development Zone) is associated with rural areas where development is limited to what is necessary in the interests of agriculture. There have been a number of exceptions, but, so far, such exceptions have been made where ODZ development was considered to be in the national interest. Such instances included the state hospital, the airport terminal, Malta’s only University, the Freeport, a number of both state and private schools, a home for the elderly, industrial estates, sewage purification plants and waste management facilities.

We have also had the case of Smart City. This replaced the former Ricasoli Industrial Estate but the site was extended into ODZ territory.

The general feeling is that ODZ land should only be developed in exceptional cases which have a social policy dimension or else are required in the national interest. The proposed American University is not such a case.

The government has not done its homework: in particular, it has not, to date, examined alternative sites for the proposed University. The ongoing debate has identified a myriad of such alternatives, most of which are located in Malta’s political south. In some instances, the alternatives sites that have been identified are competing with other uses proposed through “expressions of interests” currently being assessed. Whilst this might be understandable at this point, the government needs to explain why it has issued these “expressions of interests” when it knew quite some time ago that it had this competing demand for a substantial area.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister  Muscat embarked on a damage limitation exercise through which he seeks to collect from the public a list of possible alternative sites for his consideration.   This is a farce in the making, because suitable sites for this type of project are not selected in this manner.  The government  should have embarked on a meticulous search months ago, and should have entrusted a group of experts with the study of all possible options, analysing in detail the advantages and disadvantages of each site, including the relative opportunity costs.

The fact that it did not proceed in this manner is a testimony to the amateurishness of the Muscat administration, an administration which clearly imagines that it knows it all. It is bad governance at its worst.

Malta has a right to land use planning that is sensible and sensitive. Each one of us has the right to expect as much from Labour, which promised that the environment would be its priority.

By now it should  be pretty obvious to everyone that the Audrey Harrison billboard stating that, for Labour, the environment is a priority is just another gimmick. The environment never was a Labour priority, and it will never be.

Published in the Independent on Sunday, 24 May 2015

Il-prijorità li Joseph qatt ma kellu

Labour u l-Ambjent

Wara l-froġa tal-Cafè Premier, Joseph kien qalilna li l-affarijiet setgħu saru aħjar. Kien għadu qed jitgħallem!

Issa reġa’ għaffiġha.

Wara li s-soċjetà ċivili għal darba oħra semmgħet leħinha, Joseph qed jitlob li l-pubbliku jindikalu siti alternattivi fejn jista’ jpoġġi l-Universita “Amerikana”.  Qed iħokk rasu biex jara jsibx sit flok iż-Żonqor! Dan minkejja li gie dikjarat li intagħzlet l-art ODZ għax din tiswa’ inqas! Qalulna li kieku l-art tiswa’ iktar il-proġett ma jkunx vijabbli, jiġifieri l-investitur iħoss li ma jagħmilx biżżejjed qliegħ!

Fid-diskussjoni li għaddejja fil-pajjiż diġà ssemmew diversi siti. Uħud huma addattati iktar minn oħrajn!

Din x’serjetà hi li wara li tiddeċiedi u tkun ankè iffirmajt ftehim preliminari taparsi tikkonsulta? Konsultazzjoni bis-serjeta kienet tkun ferm differenti.  Gvern serju  kien jaħdem differenti.

Fuq is-sit elettroniku tal-uffiċċju tal-Prim Ministru Muscat qed jitlob proposti mill-pubbliku għal siti alternattivi għaż-Żonqor liema siti jridu josservaw 5 kriterji :

  1. jkunu fis-“South”,
  2. jkunu użabbli bħala Università internazzjonali,
  3. li l-qies tal-proposti jkun ta’ madwar 90,000 metru kwadru, avolja l-Gvern lest li jikkunsidra li dawn ikunu mqassma fuq iktar minn sit wieħed,
  4. li biex titwassal l-infrastruttura neċessarja fis-sit identifikat ma jkunx hemm bżonn interventi kbar,
  5. li s-siti ma jkunux soġġetti għal protezzjoni ambjentali, b’mod partikolari protezzjoni li tirriżulta minn Direttivi Ewropej (jsemmi tlett eżempji: Habitats Directive, Birds Directive, Water Framework Directive).

Issa kieku Muscat nieda din il-konsultazzjoni qabel ma iddeċieda kont bla dubju ngħid li kien ikun pass tajjeb. Imma li mexa b’dan il-mod wara li l-opinjoni pubblika ġabitu dahru mal-ħajt, il-proċess  jista’ jkun deskritt biss bħala farsa.

 

Fi ftit kliem dan mhux eżerċiżżju ta’ konsultazzjoni, iżda wieħed ta’ damage control.  Joseph qed ifittex li jsewwi l-ħsara li għamel billi għal darba oħra għaffeġ. Għax nesa li suppost għall-Labour fil-Gvern l-ambjent kellu jkun prijorità.

Għax ngħiduha kif inhi issa ma setax jibqa’ jgħidilna li l-affarijiet setgħu saru aħjar. Għax it-tweġiba ovvja tkun: kemm ser iddum ma titgħallem?

Il-billboard ta’ Audrey Harrison hu ħafna l-bogħod mill-prijorità ta’ Joseph. Għax l-ambjent qatt ma kien prijorità ta’ Joseph. Kieku l-ambjent kien prijorità għal Joseph, kien jibda mill-ewwel fuq sieq tajba!

L-Università taż-Zonqor : bejn in-nies u tal-business!

Local%20CouncilMarsaskala logo

M’hemmx kuntrast fil-fehmiet espressi bejn il-Kunsilli Lokali ta’ Marsaskala u Birżebbuġa dwar il-Lukanda Amerikana taż-Żonqor.

Għax għalkemm il-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Marsaskala qabel mal-proġett, fil-fatt mhux il-proġett irid iżda l-faċilitajiet sportivi li hemm miegħu.  F’dan is-sens kienet kuraġġuża il-Viċi Sindku Desiree Attard li mhux biss wasslet il-fehma tan-nies iżda kellha l-kuraġġ li tagħmel dmirha u tpoġġi lir-residenti l-ewwel, qabel kulħadd.

Fir-realtà mela f’Marsaskala jaqblu ma’ Birżebbuġa, li ukoll ma jridux il-proġett għax bih Birżebbuġa ma tistax timxi l-quddiem.

Huwa tajjeb li l-Kunsilli Lokali jpoġġu lin-nies qabel il-business.

Joseph : ABŻ mill-ODZ

euros-loads-of-money

 

Bl-iktar mod solenni  waqt l-aħħar kampanja elettorali Joseph Muscat wiegħed li l-Labour fil-Gvern mhux ser imiss il-linja tal-iżvilupp. B’mod partikolari waqt laqgħa mal-kuntratturi (li uħud isejħu lilhom infushom żviluppaturi) u mal-Periti kien wiegħed li mhux bi ħsiebu jmiss il-linja tal-ODZ.

Bil-proposta ta’ żvilupp ta’ l-Università taż-Żonqor Muscat mhux ser imiss il-linja tal-ODZ iżda ser jinjorha kompletament.

Fejn jidħol l-ambjent Joseph paroli biss. ABŻ mill-ODZ.