L-inċident fil-kamra tan-nar fis-Salini: dmugħ tal-kukkudrilli


L-inċident tal-kamra tan-nar tas-Salini għadu fl-aħbarijiet, mhux biss għax għad hemm il-possibilitá ta’ murtali li ma splodewx li jistgħu jkunu is-sors ta’ periklu. Imma ukoll għax għad hemm in-nies l-isptar, uħud fil-periklu li jitilfu ħajjithom. Fil-ħin li qed nikteb qed titħabbar il-mewt ta’ wieħed minn dawk imweġġgħin gravi.

L-inkjesti għaddejjin u f’xi stadju jkollna rakkomandazzjonijiet dwar x’jeħtieġ li jsir biex ikunu evitati dawn l-inċidenti. Imbagħad ikunu hemm ħafna dmugħ tal-kukkudrilli dwar il-ħtieġa li jittieħdu passi biex tiżdied is-siġurtá.

Tajjeb f’dan il-kuntest li niftakru li ftit ġimgħat ilu l-Qorti tal-Appell, dwar kawża li saret mill-komunitá rurali taż-Żebbiegħ tletin sena ilu, ħassret permess ta’ kamra tan-nar fiż-Żebbiegħ, u dan minħabba li ma kienitx tosserva d-distanzi minimi meħtieġa mill-liġi.

Sfortunatament din id-deċiżjoni tal-Qorti ġiet newtralizzata, għax il-Parlament Malti, bi qbil unanimu, emenda l-liġi biex jagħti lill-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija l-awtoritá li jkun jista’ joħroġ il-permess għall-kamra tan-nar xorta waħda, minkejja li l-qisien minimi ma jkunux osservati.

Hi ipokrezija grassa li, fost dawk li l-iktar marru malajr is-Salini jxerrdu d-dmugħ tal-kukkudrilli, kien hemm dawk li mexxew il-quddiem malajr malajr il-liġi li tagħmilha possibli li l-kmamar tan-nar ikunu iktar viċin in-nies, bil-periklu b’kollox.

Issa, l-qisien minimi kif inhuma, waħedhom m’humiex biżżejjed biex jipproteġu n-nies. Aħseb u ara jekk tagħmilha possibli li dawn jonqsu.

Undermining the rule of law

The “rule of law” is a basic democratic principle codified in the laws of democratic countries.

We are all servants of the law in order to be free and in a democracy, the law should apply to one and all without exception. A weak “rule of law” thus results in less and less democracy until one is left with only a free-standing façade.

The law is there to be observed: it should be a constraint on the behaviour of individuals as well as on that of institutions. All individuals ought to be subject to the same laws, whereas institutions are there to protect us all, not just from ourselves but also from all possible attempted abuse of authority by the institutions themselves.

It is within this context that the report of the ad hoc delegation of the Committee of Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament has to be considered. The report is an illustration of how others see the state of our democracy, even though at points it may be inaccurate.

The delegation’s brief was to investigate “alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion”.

The observations and conclusions of the delegation in its 36-page report are certainly not edifying. The common thread running through the different pages of the report is that in Malta there are more masters of the law than servants; this is how others see us.

In my opinion they are not far off the mark. The report repeatedly emphasises the point that the law should be observed in both letter and spirit.

The institutions in Malta are very weak. I would add that they are weak by design, in other words they are designed specifically to genuflect when confronted by crude political power. This is reflected both in the type of appointees as well as in the actual set-up of the institutions which are supposedly there to protect us.

The above-mentioned report observes, for example, that none of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) reports on Maltese politically exposed persons (PEPs) were investigated by the Police, notwithstanding the fact that the said reports had been forwarded to them “for any action the Police may consider appropriate”.

Is it too much to expect that the police do their duty in at least investigating? The fact that no such investigation was carried out drives home the clear unequivocal message that for the police, PEPs are not subject to the law like any other person. The EU Parliament report is very clear as to why such investigations are essential. In fact it is stated that: “Persons perceived to be implicated in serious acts of corruption and money- laundering, as a result of Panama Papers revelations and FIAU reports, should not be kept in public office and must be swiftly and formally investigated and brought to justice. Keeping them in office affects the credibility of the Government, fuels the perception of impunity and may result in further damage to State interests by enabling the continuation of criminal activity.”

The question to be asked is: why is this possible? Why do Maltese authorities tend to bend the rules or close an eye here and there?

You may find an indication as to why this is so in two small incidents occurring in Malta this year. These illustrate the forma mentis of the Maltese “authorities”.

The first example is associated with the fireworks factory at Iż-Żebbiegħ. After 30 years in Court the rural community of iż-Żebbiegħ won a civil case as a result of which a permit for a fireworks factory was declared null and void by the Court of Appeal. The government reacted by rushing through Parliament amendments to the Explosives Ordinance. These amendments with approved by Parliament with the full support of the Opposition. As a result, notwithstanding the decision of the Court of Appeal, a permit for the fireworks factory can still be issued.

The second example is still “work in progress”. The Court of Appeal has, in the application of rent legislation, decided that the Antoine de Paule Band Club in Paola was in breach of its lease agreement. As a result the Court of Appeal ordered the eviction of the band club from the premises they leased within four months.

The government reacted by publishing proposed amendments to the Civil Code, as a result of which the eviction ordered by the Court of Appeal will be blocked.

These are two examples of the government reacting to decisions of our Courts of Law by moving the goalposts – with the direct involvement of the Opposition. The public reactions to these two cases have been minimal. Maltese public opinion has become immune to such “cheating” and bending of the rules because this method of operation has become an integral part of the way in which our institutions function. The Opposition is an active collaborator in this exercise that undermines the rule of law in Malta.

Is it therefore reasonable to be surprised if this “cheating” and bending of the rules is applied not just in minor matters but in very serious ones too? Moving the goalposts whenever it is politically expedient is, unfortunately, part of the way in which this country has operated to date. It is certainly anything but democratic and most obviously anything but respectful towards the rule of law.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 20 May 2018

Parliament moves the goalposts in support of fireworks lobby

On Friday, 26 January 2018, Malta’s Court of Appeal delivered judgement on a fireworks factory law suit which had originally been presented way back in 1989. The Court of Appeal accepted the requests of the plaintiffs (the rural community) and declared the building permit for a fireworks factory at iż-Żebbiegħ null and void.

The wheels of justice grind slowly, very slowly, we are told: 30 years in fact. Unfortunately, the wheels of injustice are too fast.

Fast-forward two months to March 2018: Parliament debates and approves amendments to the Explosives Ordinance, consequently removing the legal requirements as a result of which the Court of Appeal declared the permit for the Żebbiegħ fireworks factory null and void. Malta’s Parliament is of course very respectful of the rule of law, to the extent that if a powerful lobby falls foul of the law, the law is changed as quickly as possible thereby ensuring that after all, it is possible to be in full alignment with the law.

Parliament has caved-in to the demands of the fireworks lobby and restored its privileged status of being above the law. As a result, Parliament has set aside the expectations of the Żebbiegħ rural community which, for 30 years, has been battling against the Maltese state to ensure that the rule of law prevails.

As a result of the amendments just approved, Parliament has granted the Commissioner of Police the discretion to consider issuing a licence for a fireworks factory when this is closer that the minimum distance prescribed by law – which is 183 metres. Parliament has decided to give the Commissioner of Police this additional authority which he can apply “after giving due consideration to the exigencies of public safety”. Among those MPs accepting the granting of such additional authority to the Commissioner of Police where those who, until a few days ago were insisting that he should resign.

Parliament rushed legislation through practically all its stages on the 20 March 2018. The minutes of the Parliamentary session do not indicate a single Member of Parliament standing up to the fireworks lobby and its Ministerial lackeys. None of the 67 MPs stood up for the Żebbiegħ rural community: they preferred to protect the operation of fireworks factories instead.

It would be more appropriate if Parliament were to start debating the Vella report presented by the Commission of Inquiry headed by Professor Alfred Vella some years ago [Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Accidents in Fireworks Factories]. The 97- page report, published on 11 November 2011, contained a list of 24 recommendations, most of which dealing with the required quality of the materials used in the local manufacture of fireworks. Apparently a discussion on these conclusions is not a priority for the time being. Such a discussion seems to have been shelved until the next deadly fireworks accident.

Then maybe another inquiry and another report would be produced. Another smokescreen.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 6 May 2018

Wara t-tejatrin ta’ Singapore …………….. lil hinn mill-partiġjaniżmu politiku

Delimara floating gas stirage terminal


Qed joqrob il-jum li fih it-tanker għall-ħażna tal-gass tal-power station jidħol u jitqiegħed fil-Port ta’ Marsaxlokk. Qed jgħidulna li dan ser ikun temporanju, jiġifieri għal ftit taż-żmien, sakemm jitlestew l-istudji dwar il-pipline tal-gass bejn Sqallija u Malta. Ovvjament trid iżżid ukoll iż-żmien biex il-pipeline jitqieghed f’qiegħ il-baħar inkluż ukoll il-perjodu tal-finanzjament, tendering u commissioning. Mhux xahar u tnejn.

Kemm ser ikun twil dan il-perjodu temporanju? Jiddependi mix-xogħol li sar diġà. Peró ma neħodiex bi kbira jekk dan iż-żmien ikun bejn 5 u 8 snin.

Sadanittant hemm il-ħtieġa li jkun ikkunsidrat il-permess operattiv tal-power station taħdem bil-gass f’Delimara. Dan il-permess ikun irid jissodisfa tlett tipi ta’ direttivi/regolamenti. Dawk dwar l-impjanti industrijali, dawk dwar l-impatti ambjentali (IPPC – Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) u dawk dwar il-ħarsien minn inċidenti industrijali u l-impatti kemm ambjentali kif ukoll dawk ta’ protezzjoni ċivili (Direttivi ta’ Seveso).

Dan kollu jkun ikkunsidrat mill-Awtorità tal-Ambjent u Riżorsi flimkien ma’ awtoritajiet oħra, prinċipalment id-Dipartiment tal-Protezzjoni Ċivili u l-Awtorità għall-Ħarsien tas-Saħħa fuq il-Post tax-Xogħol. Imma ser ikun hemm ukoll bla dubju ħtieġa  ta’ eżami sewwa ta’ issues ta’ navigazzjoni minn Trasport Malta minħabba kemm it-tanker stazzjonarju (marbut mal-moll) fil-bajja ta’ Marsaxlokk kif ukoll minħabba li madwar 8 darbiet fis-sena ser jidħlu tankers bil-ħtiġijiet tal-gass skond kemm tkun qed tikkonsma gass il-Power Station ta’ Delimara.

Dawn huma kollha affarijiet li ġew diskussi f’ċerta dettall madwar sentejn ilu meta kien qed ikun diskuss il-permess ta’ żvilupp quddiem il-MEPA. Dakinnhar kien intqal li dawn kollha kienu affarijiet li riedu jkunu deċiżi iktar tard. Preċiżament issa hu dak il-mument, matul dawn il-ġimgħat u xhur li ġejjin.

Ser naraw matul il-ġimgħat li ġejjin dwar il-ħtieġa ta’ sigurtà huwa u jkun trasferit il-gass mit-tankers ġejjin u sejrin għal ġot-tanker stazzjonarju. Jekk hux veru li għal ċertu ħin il-port ikun jeħtieġlu illi jkun magħluq u kif dan (jekk minnu) ser jeffettwa l-operat tal Freeport u tas-sajjieda.

Irridu naraw kemm il-miżuri ta’ sigurtà fl-operazzjoni tal-power station huma f’posthom u xi drills ser ikunu meħtieġa (inkluż il-frekwenza tagħhom) biex ikun assigurat illi l-popolazzjoni residenzjali fil-viċinanzi tkun imħejjija għal kull eventwalità, anke jekk remota.

Wara l-inċidenti ta’ tmiem il-ġimgħa fil-ħruq tan-nar tal-festa ta’ Marsaxlokk bla dubju jridu jittieħdu prewkazzjonijiet ħafna iktar biex ikun assigurat li dawn it-tip ta’ inċidenti, jekk iseħħu, jinżammu l-bogħod kemm jista’ jkun mill-power station ta’ Delimara u l-ħażna tal-gass.

Dan kollu dwaru hemm l-obbligu li jkun hemm konsultazzjoni pubblika mar-residenti effettwati, dawk ta’ Marsaxlokk prinċipalment, imma probabbilment ukoll dawk ta’ Birżebbuġa.

L-operazzjoni tal-power station bil-gass bla dubju ser tnaqqas it-tniġġż tal-arja u b’mod ġenerali ittejjeb l-impatti ambjentali. Il-kostruzzjoni tal-pipe tal-gass eventwalment tnaqqas u tbiegħed il-perikli. Imma sa ma jasal dak il-jum, il-possibiltà tal-perikli, anke jekk remoti xorta qegħda wara l-bieb tagħna.

Lil hinn mill-partiġġjaniżmu politiku għandna l-obbligu li nassiguraw li l-affarijiet isiru sewwa. Biex dan isir għandna l-obbligu li neżaminaw kull pass li jsir. Għax b’hekk biss kulħadd joqgħod attent li jagħmel xogħolu sewwa.

ippubblikat fuq iNews : it-Tlieta 2 t’Awwissu 2016

Il-ħrafa tal-kaċċaturi


bird votingTorca.011215


F’dawn l-ewwel ħmistax tal-kampanja dwar ir-Referendum tal-11 t’April biex tispiċċa l-kaċċa fir-Rebbiegħa spikkat il-ħrafa dwar dik li qed tissejjaħ “theddida” għal delizzji oħra.

Fir-referendum abrogattiv tal-11 t’April ser inkunu mitlubin jekk naqblux mar-regolamenti li jippermettu l-kaċċa fir-Rebbiegħa. IVA tfisser li taqbel, u LE tfisser li ma taqbilx. Jekk jirbaħ l-IVA nibqgħu bil-kaċċa fir-Rebbiegħa, jekk jirbaħ il-LE, il-kaċċa fir-Rebbiegħa tispiċċa.  Dan iseħħ minħabba li rebħa għal-LE tkun tfisser li r-regolamenti li jippermettu l-kaċċa fir-Rebbiegħa jispiċċaw. Ir-regolamenti l-oħra kollha dwar il-kaċċa jibqgħu hemm. L-effett tar-referendum abrogattiv ikun biss fuq il-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa li ma tkunx tista’ terġa’ tiftaħ b’effett immedjat.

L-għaqdiet tal-kaċċaturi qed jgħidu li wara dan ir-referendum ser ikun imiss delizzji oħra. Din hi ħrafa kbira.

Ħafna mid-delizzji huma regolati b’regolamenti/liġijiet li jispjegaw min għandu l-awtorità li joħroġ permessi jew liċenzji dwar kif dak id-delizzju tista’ tipprattikah. Referendum abrogattiv hu proposta eżatta biex titħassar liġi jew regolamenti jew parti minnhom. Jekk referendum abrogattiv jgħaddi hi biss il-liġi jew regolamenti li jkunu imsemmija fil-mistoqsija li fuqha jivvutaw in-nies li ma tibqax fis-seħħ.

Ħa nagħti żewġ eżempji.

Il-logħob tan-nar, il-manifattura u l-ħażna tiegħu, huma regolati mill-Ordinanza dwar l-Esplożivi u mir-Regolamenti dwar Kontroll ta’ Xogħolijiet tan-Nar u Esplożivi Oħra.

Kemm l-Ordinanza (artiklu 3) kif ukoll ir-regolamenti (regolament 4) jipprovdu li ħadd ma jista’ jipproduċi logħob tan-nar jew jaħraq xogħol tan-nar jekk ma jkollux liċenzja li joħroġ il-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija. Ir-regolamenti jipprovdu ukoll għat-taħriġ neċessarju qabel ma tista’ tagħmel eżami biex il-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija jiddeċiedi jekk għandux joħroġ liċenzja. Hemm ukoll il-ħtieġa ta’ liċenzja għal kamra fejn jinħadem in-nar.

Referendum abrogattiv dwar il-logħob tan-nar jista’ jsir biss biex jitneħħew dawn l-artikli fil-liġi (l-Ordinanza) u fir-regolamenti. Il-konsegwenza jekk referendum bħal dan jgħaddi tkun li ħadd ma jkollu bżonn liċenzja, u allura kulħadd ikun jista’ jagħmel li jrid. Nafu li l-iskop tar-regolamenti u l-liġijiet dwar il-logħob tan-nar qegħdin hemm biex jgħinu fil-protezzjoni tal-ħajja u s-saħħa, in partikolari  ta’ dawk li jaħdmu il-logħob tan-nar.

L-istess jgħodd għaż-żwiemel.

Il-Kodiċi tal-Liġijiet tal-Pulizija jistabilixxi li ħadd ma jista’ jżomm żiemel sakemm ma jkollux liċenzja. L-Ordinanza dwar Imħatri f’tiġrijiet tittratta il-post fejn isiru it-tiġrijiet (racecourses). Tipprovdi li l-Ministru tal-Pulizija jista’ jagħti (jew jirtira) liċenzji.

Referendum abrogattiv dwar iż-żwiemel ikun jista’ jsir biss biex jitneħħew dawn l-artikli fil-liġi. Il-konsegwenza jekk referendum abrogattiv bħal dan jgħaddi tkun li ħadd ma jkollu bżonn liċenzja, u allura kulħadd ikun jista’ jagħmel li jrid.

Il-parti l-kbira tad-delizzji l-oħra huma fl-istess sitwazzjoni.

Fi ftit kliem ma jistgħux jinġabru l-firem biex nivvutaw favur jew kontra xi delizzju partikolari. L-anqas kontra l-kaċċa m’hu permess li jsir dan għax il-firem li inġabru huma biss dwar id-deroga għall-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa.

Hemm imbagħad delizzji li dwarhom m’hemm l-ebda regola jew liġi u fil-fatt dwar dawn ħadd ma jitlob permess jew liċenzja biex jipprattikhom. Dwar kull delizzju li m’hemmx ligi/regolamenti, ma jista’ jsir l-ebda referendum abrogattiv.

Hi għalhekk ħrafa li jingħad illi jista’ jsir xi referendum biex jinqata’ xi delizzju. Min qed jgħidilkom mod ieħor qed jgħaddikom biż-żmien.

L-argumenti dwar ir-referendum ma jintrebħux bil-ħrejjef, iżda bil-fatti.


ippubblikat fit-Torċa, l-Ħadd 1 ta’ Frar 2015



Il-logħob tan-nar u r-referendum abrogattiv

fireworks 11

Il-logħob tan-nar, il-manifattura u l-ħażna tiegħu huma regolati mill-Ordinanza dwar l-Esplożivi [Kapitlu 33 tal-Liġijiet ta’ Malta] u r-Regolamenti dwar Kontroll ta’ Xogħolijiet tan-Nar u Esplożivi Oħra [Legislazzjoni sussidjarja 33.03 – Avviż Legali 243 tal-1998 kif emendat].

Kemm l-ordinanza (artiklu 3) kif ukoll ir-regolamenti (regolament 4) jipprovdu li ħadd ma jista’ jipproduċi logħob tan-nar jew jaħraq xogħol tan-nar jekk ma jkollux liċenzja li joħroġ il-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija. Ir-regolamenti jipprovdu ukoll għal liċenzji differenti u għal taħriġ li tkun trid issegwi qabel ma tista’ tagħmel eżami biex il-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija jiddeċiedi jekk għandux joħroġ liċenzja. Hemm ukoll il-ħtieġa ta’ liċenzja għal kamra fejn jinħadem in-nar.

Li kieku kellu jsir referendum dwar il-logħob tan-nar dan ikun jista’ jsir biss biex jitneħħew dawn l-artikli fil-liġi (l-Ordinanza) u fir-regolamenti. Il-konsegwenza jekk referendum bħal dan jgħaddi tkun li ħadd ma jkollu bżonn liċenzja, u allura kulħadd ikun jista’ jagħmel li jrid. Nafu li l-iskop tar-regolamenti u l-liġijiet dwar il-kmamar tan-nar qegħdin hemm biex jgħinu fil-protezzjoni tal-ħajja u s-saħħa ta’ dawk li jaħdmu il-logħob tan-nar.

Referendum abrogattiv dwar il-logħob tan-nar jista’ biss ineħħi l-liġijiet u r-regolamenti li hemm u l-konsegwenza tkun mhux li jispiċċa d-delizzju, imma li ħadd ma jkollu bżonn permess jew liċenzja.

Tal-FKNK dan ma jgħiduhx. Staqsuhom għalfejn qed jgħaddukom biż-żmien.

Il-logħob tan-nar, ż-żwiemel u r-referendum

Malta fireworks

F’kull votazzjoni li jkun hawn fil-pajjiż ikun hawn min jipprova jqarraq billi jxerred informazzjoni falza. Jiġifieri jxerred il-gideb.

Bil-liġi li għandna f’Malta ma jistax jinġabru firem biex isir referendum ħalli jispiċċa l-logħob tan-nar. L-anqas ma jistgħu jinġabru l-firem biex jitneħħew iż-żwiemel mit-toroq.  Għax ir-referendum abrogattiv ifisser votazzjoni li biha nivvutaw favur jew kontra li nneħħu liġi jew regolamenti.

Issa jekk nivvutaw kontra regolamenti dwar il-logħob tan-nar ikun ifisser li nispiċċaw bla regolamenti u allura l-Gvern ma jkollux poter fuq il-kmamar tal-logħob tan-nar. L-istess jgħodd għaż-żwiemel: referendum dwar iż-żwiemel ma jistax ineħħihom mit-toroq. Jista’ biss ineħħi regolamenti dwar iż-żwiemel. U bla regolamenti l-Gvern ikollu inqas poteri fuq iż-żwiemel.

Fi ftit biss huwa biss il-Parlament li jista’ jnaqqas jew ineħħi ż-żwiemel mit-toroq u fil-fatt il-Ministeru tat-Trasport f’dawn il-ġranet sejjaħ numru ta’ laqgħat propju għalhekk, biex jirregola aħjar u jnaqqas iż-żwiemel fit-toroq.

L-istess dwar il-logħob tan-nar. Huwa biss il-Gvern li għandu is-setgħa li jnaqqas jew jirregola iktar il-logħob tan-nar. Kull tant żmien jagħmel hekk biex itejjeb ir-regolamenti dwar kif iħares is-saħħa u l-ħajja ta’ dawk kollha li għandhom x’jaqsmu mal-logħob tan-nar.

Jiġifieri l-ebda referendum ma jista’ iwaqqaf il-logħob tan-nar jew ineħħi ż-żwiemel mit-toroq.

Fir-referendum tal-11 t’April fil-fatt ser nivvutaw dwar ir-regolamenti li bihom il-Gvern qed jagħti permess biex issir il-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa għall-gamiem u s-summien.  Jekk nivvutaw LE ir-regolamenti jispiċċaw u l-Gvern ma jkunx jista’ iktar jippermetti kaċċa għall-gamiem u s-summien fir-rebbiegħa.

Magħna taf fejn qiegħed

new identity

 Il-ġimgħa d-dieħla nisimgħu s-suffara li ssejjaħ elezzjoni ġenerali.

Alternattiva Demokratika ser terġa tkun hemm fuq id-Distretti kollha. F’uħud b’kandidat wieħed, f’oħrajn b’iktar.

Il-programm elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika bħal dejjem ser ikun ċar fuq issues li partiti oħra jevitaw. Hekk ġara fil-passat dwar id-divorzju u r-riforma tal-liġijiet tal-kera. Il-partiti l-oħra evitaw dawn is-suġġetti fil-kampanja elettorali imma mbagħad kellhom jiffaċċawhom fil-Parlament.

Alternattiva Demokratika m’hi ostaġġ ta’ ħadd, għalhekk titkellem ċar.

AD tkompli tkun l-akbar difensur ta’ dak li baqa’ mill-wirt ambjentali Malti, tistinka għal aktar spazji pubbliċi u infrastruttura aħjar. AD mħiex ostaġġ tal-kaċċaturi u n-nassaba, l-iffissati fil-logħob tan-nar, l-abitanti illegali tal-Armier, u spekulaturi u żviluppaturi bla rażan. Issejjaħ għal politika sostenibbli dwar l-art u l-ilma, għal politika ekonomika progressiva, bħal żieda fil-paga minima u taxxa mit-tielet proprjetà vojta lil hinn.

AD hi favur politika soċjali umana u drittijiet ugwali għal kulħadd, fosthom il-minoranzi fil-politika soċjali u tal-familja, bħall-persuni b’diżabilità, il-persuni LGBT u kull tip ta’ familja. AD hi favur ugwaljanza bejn is-sessi, id-dekriminalizzazzjoni tad-drogi għall-użu personali, u l-għajnuna għall-vittimi tad-droga minflok kriminalizzazzjoni.

AD lesta biex taħdem ma’ ħaddieħor, skont programm konġunt maqbul. Taħdem biex dak miftiehem jitwettaq meta nkunu fil-Parlament. Bħala sieħeb minuri, AD tistinka biex tkun żviluppata il-politika bil-kunsens u ma theddidx li tgħaddi tagħha akkost ta’ kollox, konxja mill-fatt li dan iġib l-instabilità.

Vot għal Alternattiva Demokratika jkun vot għall-bidla fil-mod ta’ tmexxija u favur stabbilità.

Jekk temmen li għandhom jkunu fuq quddiem il-ġustizzja soċjali, id-drittijiet ċivili, il-ġustizzja ambjentali, l-iżvilupp sostenibbli, il-modernizzazzjoni ekoloġika u, fuq kollox, ir-riforma tal-istituzzjonijiet għat-tisħiħ tad-demokrazija, mela taf fejn qiegħed mal-Alternattiva Demokratika. Vot għall-PN jew għall-PL ifisser vot għas-sistema staġnata taż-żewġ partiti.

Jekk vera trid il-bidla, ivvota Alternattiva. Magħna taf fejn qiegħed.

Barely scratching the surface

The Noise White Paper, just published for public consultation, identifies the need to coordinate the existing fragmented administrative structures as its first target. This is being done in the belief that it will eventually lead to a smoothening out of administrative inconsistencies. Better coordination could also ensure that, in the long term, issues in respect of which the authorities have, to date, been reluctant to act upon can be addressed in an appropriate manner. Hopefully.

The White Paper deals with the abatement of neighbourhood noise. Its reach should have been much wider. It postpones dealing with the noise generated by fireworks and village feasts to some future date. Cultural aspects and tradition are reasons used to justify this postponement. In reality, the government at this time cannot withstand the anticipated reaction of the fireworks lobby, which has yet to come to terms with restrictions based on safety as is evidenced by reactions to the findings and recommendations of the November 2011 inquiry report on accidents in fireworks factories. Clearly, the government considers that now is not the time to regulate excessive fireworks noise. On the eve of a general election, votes are considered to be a more important consideration.

We have been informed (correctly) that the EU Environmental Noise Directive is not applicable to our airport because the traffic it handles is below the established threshold.

The White Paper does not address the issue of noise generated by aircraft approaching or taking off from Malta’s only airport when flying over residential areas. In particular, the impact of approaching aircraft on Birżebbuġa’s residential area at all times of the day (including during the night) comes to mind.

Now, to be fair, one must state that the airport cannot be transferred to any other site. The flight paths leading to the airport are fixed and their use is determined by the prevalent winds. Malta needs its only airport to be operational. Yet, its operation must be such that it does not cause unnecessary hardship to residential areas along the approaches to and around the airport.

This leaves only one option: regulating the airport’s operating times to restrict aircraft movements during the silent hours as is done at Heathrow, Brussels and Fiumicinio, to mention three airports with which readers are familiar.

The airport authorities need to encourage the use of less noisy aircraft through the determination of differentiated aircraft landing charges dependent on the noise generated by the aircraft. It is about time that the airport authorities start respecting the surrounding communities. This is a missing but essential element of the airport’s sustainable development strategy.

The Noise White Paper draws up a list of those authorities that are empowered to regulate some aspect of noise control. One would expect that the police, the Malta Tourism Authority, the health authorities and the Malta Environment and Planning Authority coordinated by the Noise Control Board to now be in a better position to ensure that commercial outlets (particularly those in a mixed use area) are no longer a nuisance to residents in the vicinity.

It should also be less problematic to deal with nuisance caused by air conditioners fixed in the most awkward places.

But noise does not only impact the health of human beings. It also has a health impact on flora and fauna. This is partly regulated through the Habitats Directive of the EU, which is an integral part of Maltese law.

It is positive that the Noise White Paper recognises this and emphasises the need to ensure its implementation. This should now place more onus on Mepa to ascertain that open-air activities generating excessive noise are immediately brought to order. Examples that come to mind are open air discos at Buskett, Paradise Bay and Ta’ Qali. The first two impact biodiversity in Natura 2000 sites and the last is too close to residential areas, particularly Attard. The aborted Mistra “Spin Valley Disco”, which the Nationalist Party and its stooges at Mepa defended before the 2008 election, would also fall foul of these provisions as it was sited right in the middle of a special area of conservation.

Excessive noise also has a damaging impact on the welfare of animals, both farm animals and pets. The impact of noise on farms and agriculture is completely ignored by the White Paper.

Fireworks regulations, for example, are only concerned with residential areas and the distances to be observed from areas that serve as a residence for more than 100 humans.

Excessive noise in agricultural areas severely impacts agricultural production (like milk, poultry, eggs, rabbits…) and can have a considerable economic impact.

It is up to the minister in question to decide whether to prefer the fireworks at the expense of negative impacts on animal husbandry. He may not worry unnecessarily as animals do not vote!

While the White Paper on Noise Prevention is welcome, it barely scratches the surface. We need to go deeper and tackle areas ignored by the White Paper because noise pollution is an issue that has been neglected for far too long.


This article was published in The Times of Malta , April 14, 2012


on the same subject on this blog :

7th February 2009 : The value of silence

7th November 2009 : When pigs are able to vote

When Pigs are able to Vote



by Carmel Cacopardo

published November 7, 2009


Within the last three months, the law courts have expressed themselves twice on the impact of fireworks in Malta. The first being in late July on whether to stop the display of fireworks from the environs of the Marsa Sports Club. The second was last week on the constitutional application of the Zammit Maempel family relative to the impacts of fireworks on their residence in the area between Birkirkara and San Ġwann.

In the Marsa Sports Club case, the court explained that it had to conclude that the legislative arm of the government had not approved any legislation regulating noise levels to date.

In the Zammit Maempel case, on the other hand, the court underlined that plaintiffs knew all along and prior to taking up residence that the residential property they purchased was situated in an area used for fireworks display for years on end.

It also argued that the state had to seek a balance between the rights of those involved: those organising firework displays on the one hand and those at the receiving end on the other hand.

Earlier this year, in an article entitled The Value Of Silence (February 7) I had pointed out that the provisions of the EU Environmental Noise Directive (END) have not, to date, been implemented in Malta. When these provisions are eventually implemented, a vacuum on noise regulation in Malta would still exist as the directive deals primarily with transport-generated noise.

This vacuum would still require legislative action by the Maltese Parliament.

Other jurisdictions have acted to regulate noise pollution and have introduced legislation for this reason in most areas of modern life.

Fireworks display is known to be a major source of noise pollution during the summer months. Complaints by the public in this respect have been on the increase. Interestingly enough, however, the political parties represented in Parliament have hardly reacted as they are fearful of irritating the fireworks enthusiasts in the different towns and villages all over the islands. This may translate itself into a loss of votes, which they can ill-afford.

In the Zammit Maempel decision by the Constitutional Court there is reference to the expert testimony of ENT physician Alec Lapira who emphasised that impulsive noise levels have a negative effect on auditory health and may be the cause of “permanent hearing disability”. Now this effect on health cannot in my opinion be balanced out with the rights of fireworks enthusiasts to organise and enjoy the displays. Rather, it establishes a duty that the display of fireworks should be carried out in such a manner that health issues are not in any way compromised. If this means that the display of fireworks should be curtailed, then so be it.

An emphasis has been made on the impact of fireworks on humans and their property. Everyone, however, seems to be ignoring the impact of the excessive noise generated by fireworks on animals. Depending on the proximity and intensity of the noise generated, farm animals, pets and wild fauna are all affected negatively by the noise generated.

Also of utmost importance is the chemical composition of fireworks, which, as a result of detonation, form gases and minute solid deposits that may have a negative environmental impact.

The chemicals involved (mainly metal oxides and chlorides) have to be investigated scientifically in order to have a clear picture of the real impacts, if any, which such chemicals have on the quality of air as well as agricultural land and, possibly, on the water table. Such studies and continuous monitoring would establish whether and to what extent EU standards are being adhered to, in particular, those relative to the quality of air, soil and water resources.

Fireworks legislation in Malta is focused on the protection to be afforded to an inhabited area, this being defined as one having a potential residential capacity exceeding 100 human beings. An examination of this argument forms an important part of the Zammit Maempel case. The rural area and the countryside, however, do not feature at all in determining what merits protection.

By directing firework displays to areas classified as uninhabited (including those areas where fewer than 100 human beings live) it stands to reason that Maltese legislation only considers inhabited areas as worthy of protection. Legislation relative to the areas where fireworks can be displayed limits itself to protecting residential property and its occupants provided that this lies within an inhabited area! Sparsely populated areas, such as rural areas and agricultural land and facilities, are not considered worthy of protection. Nor can non-humans complain: they have no right of access to a court of law!

But, then, it is only humans who vote. Pigs, dogs, cats, birds, cows and the rest of the eco-system do not.

That explains it all.