Planning nightmares: the coastline and marine resources


Last Monday, Parliament commenced a discussion on the implementation of the Public Domain legislation, in respect of which the Planning Authority has submitted a report entitled “Sites Nominated to be declared as Public Domain”. This report refers to 24 sites, nominated primarily by eNGOs: 16 sites were nominated by Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA), seven by Friends of the Earth and one by Minister for the Environment Josè Herrera.

The discussion is still in its initial stages and so far it has been limited to an explanation of the legislation enacted by Parliament in mid-2016.

Currently under the radar is the urgent need to implement the EU Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning, which had to be adopted by end of 2014. Malta has, in fact, adopted it and through Legal Notice 341 of 2016 it identified the Planning Authority as the competent authority which will deal with issues of maritime spatial planning in the Maltese Islands.

After submitting a query, it was pointed out to me that the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED) shall constitute Malta’s Maritime Spatial Plan – something I had not realised. Thinking that I had missed something, I checked the SPED and found a text entitled Coastal Zone and Marine Area under which are listed three coastal objectives. These are clearly objectives that can (and hopefully will) be developed into a detailed Maritime Spatial Plan.

While Malta has apparently limited itself to three brief objectives, other countries have gone into considerable detail to prepare their Maritime Spatial Plans. Ireland, for example, has published an 88-page document entitled Harnessing our Ocean Wealth – an Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland and the United Kingdom has published a 55-page document entitled UK Marine Policy Statement.

Both documents go into some detail as to the Maritime Spatial Planning required in Ireland and the United Kingdom and they will undoubtedly have to be supplemented with more detailed plans. The EU Directive determines the year 2021 as the deadline for the establishment of Maritime Spatial Plans.

The fact that Malta is an island should be reflected in more importance being given to maritime policy. Unfortunately, this is clearly not the case as it seems that we have to manage with three coastal objectives in our Strategic Plan for Environment and Development (SPED).

The EU Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning is intended to nudge us to fill the gaps in our policies and plans. The blue economy, which is the economic activity dependent on the utilisation of marine resources, requires much careful planning.

Successive Maltese governments have ruined land-based resources and natural habitats. At times this has been done almost beyond repair. The water table is one such glaring example.

Careful maritime spatial planning could be of assistance in not exporting this erroneous behaviour beyond the coastline so that the environmental damage inflicted on the land is not repeated at sea.

Some years ago, addressing the quality of seawater by ensuring that urban wastewater dumped into the sea was adequately treated was a positive step. More still needs to be done to use the treated water. We repeatedly face issues of contamination arising out of fish-farms that has a negative impact on our residential and tourist facilities. What about fishing, energy, climate change, biodiversity, maritime safety, marine archaeological remains and land reclamation nightmares? A Maritime Spatial Plan for the Maltese Islands has to address all these issues and many more, in an holistic manner.

The Maltese Islands have a land area of 316 square kilometres. On the other hand, the area around the Maltese islands up to 25 nautical miles from the shoreline measures 11,480 square kilometres, while the area of the Continental Shelf under Malta’s jurisdiction in terms of the Continental Shelf Act measures approximately 75,779 square kilometres.

This is the physical extend of the challenge we face to protect our sea.

published in the Malta Independent on Sunday – 24th December 2017 

Zero waste : a 2050 target

Malta’s Waste Management Strategy for 2014-20 establishes the year 2050 as the one by which our society should achieve a zero waste target. In fact the first of four principles of Malta’s national waste policy is specifically: “to reduce waste and to prevent waste occurring, with a view to achieving a zero-waste society by 2050” (page 14 of Malta’s strategy).

It is pertinent to point out that the Zero Waste International Alliance has defined zero waste as follows: “Zero Waste is a goal that is both pragmatic and visionary, to guide people to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are resources for others to use. Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to reduce the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources and not burn or bury them. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water, or air that may be a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”

A Zero waste philosophy is thus a strategy and a set of practical tools seeking to eliminate waste and not just to manage it. The point at issue is how to go about reducing and eventually eliminating the waste that we generate.

This is basically a cultural change, waking up from our slumbers and realising that we live in a world where resources are finite. It is about time that we address our ecological deficit: from which there is no bale-out option.

There is one basic first step in the road towards zero waste which should be carefully planned and managed and this is a meticulous recycling strategy. Zero waste municipalities in Europe are continuously indicating that an 80 to 90 per cent recycling rate is achievable. The fact that Malta’s recycling rate is, at best, estimated at around 12 per cent, shows that there is room for substantial improvement: a seven-fold increase in Malta’s recycling rate.

How can this be brought about?

A first step would be to discard the apparently easy solutions which lead nowhere. Government’s proposed incineration policy, as a result of which 40 per cent of the waste generated will be burned, is a policy that seeks to manage waste and does away with the target of reducing and eventually eliminating its generation. The very fact that incineration is being proposed signifies a failure in the implementation of the waste management strategy just three years after its last revision, in 2014.

A second step would be to ensure consistency in waste policy. Malta’s Waste Management Strategy is aptly sub-titled ‘A Resource Management Approach’. By no stretch of the imagination can Malta’s proposed incineration policy be deemed to be consistent with such an approach. It is, in my view, just a panic reaction to the fact that there is no more space available for landfills.

The issue involved is very straightforward: can we deliver on our own target of a zero waste society by 2050? In planning to achieve this objective, each Minister has to be a Minister for the Environment, as each Ministry has a role in preventing or re-using the waste generated by the different economic activities. It is certainly a headache not only for Environment Minister José Herrera, but also for all the other Ministers, in particular Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and Minister for the Economy Chris Cardona.

In analysing waste management strategy targets achieved to date, it is not only Wasteserve that should be in the dock. The Minister responsible for the Economy has a duty to give account as to what measures and initiatives are in hand to develop the circular economy. It is the point where the paths of environment policy and economic policy cross, and rhetoric has to give precedence to results achieved or in the pipeline to be achieved.

Likewise, it is about time the Tourism Ministry seriously addresses the waste generated by hotels, bars and restaurants. This is an area that has been neglected for several years and is creating considerable difficulties in various parts of the Maltese islands, especially those along the coastline.

It is about time we realised that the implementation of an environment policy is not to be restricted to the corridors of the Environment Ministry: it is an activity that should be carried out by each and every Ministry.

published in the Malta Independent on Sunday: 26 November 2017

Il-kredenzjali demokratiċi tal-FKNK

Herrera-Farrugia - email


Wara li ilhom ix-xhur jikkampanjaw kontra d-dritt tal-Maltin li b’referendum iħassru r-regolamenti li jippermettu l-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa l-FKNK issa jridu jneħħu kull dubju dwar il-kredenzjali demokratiċi tagħhom.

Kitbu lis-Segretarju Parlamentari Josè Herrera (għax għadhom ma ndunawx li r-responsabbilta’ tal-Kunsilli Lokali issa għaddiet f’idejn is-Segretarju Parlamentari Stefan Buontempo) u talbuh jieħu passi għax żewġ Kunsilliera fil-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Ħ’Attard (Ralph Cassar ta’ AD u l-Viċi Sindku Marco Spiteri tal-PN) qed jikkummentaw kontra l-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa fuq il-facebook page tal-Kunsill Lokali.

X’jippretendu dawn: li jagħmlulna sarima ma ħalqna?


Wara San Pawl il-Baħar u l-Munxar……………. qed iberraq f’Ħaż-Żabbar

Zabbar.l-itwal mejda

L-istorja tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar għadha friska.

Kunsillier tefa’ l-offerta għal Works Manager, meta dan ma jistax isir mhux biss għax mhiex imġieba korretta, imma ukoll għax il-liġi dan tobbliga li ma jsirx.

Il-Kunsillier involut refa’ ir-responsabbilta ta’ dak li ġara u irreżenja. Ma nafx kemm kellu jerfa’ ir-responsabbilta’ hu biss. Għax fil-waqt li veru li huwa mexa ħażin, naqas ukoll is-Sindku tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar li b’għoxrin sena esperjenza fil-Kunsilli ma nistax nifhem kif ma ndunax. Huwa responsabbli ukoll is-Segretarju Eżekuttiv li messu induna mill-ewwel, iżda ma ndunax. Meta rreżenja l-Kunsillier għaldaqstant ftit issolvew affarijiet. Għax min messu induna u żamm l-iżball milli jsir għadu ma refax ir-responsabbilta’ tiegħu.

Issa tfaċċa l-każ tal-Munxar. Fejn skoprew li l-kuntrattur li ħa l-offerta għadda din l-offerta (b’sub-contract) lil wieħed mill-kunsilliera tal-istess Kunsill! Flok mill-bieb dan għadda mit-tieqa.

Jidher li hemm iktar affarijiet għaddejja.

Qiegħed iberraq f’Ħaż-Żabbar. Għaddej xi ħaġa bejn is-Sindku w is-Segretarju Eżekuttiv tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Ħaż-Żabbar. Jidher li is-Segretarju Eżekuttiv bi snin ta’ esperjenza qiegħed attent li l-ħidma tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Ħaż-Żabbar timxi sewwa, mar-regoli. Imma f’waħda minn l-aħħar laqgħat tal-Kunsill Lokali kien hemm ilment mis-Sindku li d-deċiżjonijiet qed idumu wisq ma jitwettqu. Is-Segretarju Eżekuttiv qiegħed fil-mira tal-attakki fid-deher u fl-imwarrab. Qaluli li qed jinġabru xi firem ukoll kontra dan is-Segretarju Eżekuttiv .

Hawn min rasu qed tikbirlu malajr. Il-ħidma tal-Kunsilli Lokali ma tistax issir jekk ma timxi bl-ordni u f’rispett sħiħ tar-regoli. B’mod partikolari ir-regoli ta’ kif isir l-infieq.

Is-Segretarju Parlamentari għall-Kunsilli Lokali u l-Kultura, José Herrera, jidher li ser ikollu x’jagħmel mhux ħażin.

Min għandu jifhem ħa jifhem.

José Herrera jiġbidlu l-ispaga

Jose Herrera

Naqbel mad-deċiżjoni li ħa s-Segretarju Parlamentari José Herrera meta ordna lid-Direttur tal-Kunsilli Lokali biex dan jagħti struzzjonijiet lill-Kunsill Lokali ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar li hu meħtieġ li dan jirrevoka d-deċiżjoni tiegħu li jaħtar Kunsillier minn fostu bħala Works Manager tal-lokalita’ ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar.

Is-Segretarju Parlamentari aġixxa korrettement biex jassigura tmexxija ghaqlija, trasparenti u kontabbli. Tmexxija li tosserva dak li tistabilixxi l-liġi tal-Kunsilli Lokali.

Is-Segretarju Parlamentari José Herrera kien l-aħħar linja ta’ difiża li kellha il-komunita’ ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar għax is-saffi l-oħra ta’ difiza jirriżultaw li fallew u ma ħadmux.

Fallew milli jaqdu dmirhom il-kunsilliera infushom li issa qed jirriżulta li ħadd minnhom ma kellu konoxxenza tal-obbligi tagħhom. Ħadd minnhom ma oġġezzjona. L-Kunsilliera Laburisti kollha ivvutaw favur. Dawk tal-PN astjenew. Ħadd minnhom ma semma leħnu u ġibed l-attenzjoni  li kienet qed isseħħ irregolaritá bil-ħatra ta’ kunsillier bħala works manager.

L-anqas ma mexa sewwa il-proċess tal-aġġudikazzjoni tal-offerti . F’dan l-istadju l-offerta tal-Kunsillier kellha tkun meqjusa bhala inammissibli. Dan ifisser li min ħa sehem f’dan il-proċess ma jifhimx.

L-anqas ma qeda dmiru s-Segretarju Ezekuttiv tal-Kunsill Lokali li wera b’dan il-każ li ma kellux għarfien adegwat tar-regoli tal-Kunsilli Lokali. Jekk ma jafx dawn l-affarijiet x’qiegħed jagħmel bħala Segretarju Eżekuttiv tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar?

Falla ukoll id-Direttur tal-Kunsilli Lokali li kellu l-obbligu li jintervjeni fil-każ mill-ewwel minghajr ma jkun hemm il-ħtieġa li s-Segretarju Parlamentari  jagħmilha ta’ suġġeritur.

Fortunatament il-Kunsilli  Lokali li jaġixxu b’dan il-mod huma ftit fil-għadd.

Minn dan il-każ ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar nistgħu naslu għal numru ta’ konklużjonijiet.  Hemm bżonn urġenti li kemm il-Kunsilliera kif ukoll is-Segretarji Eżekuttivi jkunu mħarrġa aħjar biex jagħrfu jaqdu sewwa r-responsabbiltajiet tagħhom. Huwa meħtieġ ukoll li  l-proċess tal-aġġudikazzjoni tal-offerti jkun afdat f’idejn persuni kompetenti  kif ukoll li jkun hemm iktar nies imħarrġa fil-lokalitajiet biex jaqdu din il-funzjoni. B’hekk il-Kunsilli Lokali jkunu assigurati li jkollhom pariri mingħand persuni  li jifhmu.

Fl-aħħarnett huwa  meħtieġ  li d-Direttur tal-Kunsilli Lokali jkun iktar proattiv u jkun lest li jiċċaqlaq mingħajr il-ħtieġa li jiġbidlu l-ispaga José Herrera .

Weeding out corruption


One of the Bills currently pending before Parliament is the Private Member’s Motion presented by Franco Debono.  Motion 288 was presented on January 21, 2012. Entitled “An Act to regulate the formation, the inner structures, functioning and financing, of political parties and their participation in elections”. This Bill will be discarded once Parliament is dissolved.

Parliament did not discuss the Bill, although the Parliamentary Select Committee headed by Franco Debono and including MPs Francis Zammit Dimech and Jose’ Herrera discussed the matter at length in two public sessions in which representatives of all political parties and civil society participated.

The 2013 general elections will proceed on the basis of the current “rules” of party financing: a free for all. The circus which will be organised at Pieta’ and Ħamrun up till next Sunday will place common people at the forefront with their small donations to the political parties of their choice. There is nothing wrong with that. But unfortunately those making genuine donations will camouflage others whose objective is not so genuine.

Fat cats will pay homage at Pieta’ and Ħamrun contributing to the party coffers. These will be in addition to those who have already done so quietly. These later ones do not advertise donations. It is only occasionally that inadvertently their activity comes to light.

Readers will remember the case of Noel Borg Hedley, former private secretary of the Finance Minister Tonio Fenech who admitted in court the criminal charges brought against him that he accepted bribes from  building developers. He accepted tips and donations which he used to finance the electoral campaign of his boss, Minister Tonio Fenech.

The Minister has denied knowledge of the source of the finances used in his election campaign. It is not known whether the police have investigated the Hon Minister as to whether, notwithstanding his denial, he actually knew anything about the matter. No one is above the law, we are told.

This is one case which the public knows about. After the Borg Hedley case Minister Tonio Fenech was retained by Lawrence Gonzi as part of the Cabinet indicating clearly Dr Gonzi’s standards.

The government led by Lawrence Gonzi  did not have the political will to  introduce a regulatory structure which determines and limits the permissible amounts which can be donated as well as determining the compulsory disclosure of the names of those who make donations to political parties and their candidates.

Alternattiva Demokratika considers that the public has a right to know the identity of those financing all the political parties and their candidates. In particular regulation of party financing should establish a limit on the maximum donation which may be received from any one donor.  AD’s electoral manifesto to be published in the coming weeks will once more place this matter on the general election agenda emphasising that donations received by political parties (including their candidates) in excess of €5,000 per annum should be disclosed as well as that it should be illegal to receive donations in excess of €40,000 per annum from one source.

All political parties, year in year out, piously declare themselves in favour of transparency. Yet when push comes to shove those who have the power to legislate have repeatedly failed to act.

Regulating the financing of political parties is an essential building block in the fight against corruption. The fact that no such legislation is in place is adequate proof that there is no political will to weed out corruption.

First published on December 14, 2012

Fil-Parlament ma’ Franco Debono


Illum wara nofsinnhar jiena, Michael Briguglio u Ralph Cassar għan-nom ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika ħadt sehem f’diskussjoni  dwar l-abbozz ta’ Liġi li Franco Debono stess ippreżenta fil-Parlament dwar il-finanzjament tal-Partiti Politiċi.

Iltqajna mal-Kumitat Magħżul tal-Parlament immexxi minn Franco Debono u magħmul ukoll mill-Onor. Francis Zammit Dimech u l-Onor Jose’ Herrera. Kienu preżenti ukoll rappreżentanti tal-PN u rappreżentanti tal-PL  u xi mistednin oħra.

L-inizzjattiva hi flokha. Id-diskussjoni tal-lum kienet waħda ta’ natura ġenerali kif jixhdu ir-rapporti fil-media li irrappurtaw id-diskussjoni (Times, Malta Today u Di-ve).

Fil-prinċipju irrid ngħid li Alternattiva Demokratika taqbel mal-proposta ta’ Franco. Irrid imma ngħid li hemm numru ta’ dettalji importanti li jeħtieġu diskussjoni fit-tul u possibilment li l-proposti in kwistjoni jkunu ikkunsidrati mill-ġdid.

Ta’ importanza kbira hi ir-rwol propost għall-Kummissjoni Elettorali biex tirreġistra l-Partiti Politiċi kif ukoll biex tkun ir-regulatur finanzjarju tal-Partiti Politiċi.

Id-diffikulta toħroġ mill-fatt li l-Kummissjoni Elettorali hi maħtura esklussivament miż-żewġ partiti politiċi l-kbar (il-PN u l-PL).  Żewġ partiti li kontinwament jużaw il-proċess elettorali biex jeskludu partiti oħra kif jixhdu l-emendi elettorali li saru tul is-snin liema emendi huma marbutin ma’ Parlament b’żewġ partiti politiċi.

F’laqgħat oħra  ser nidħlu iktar fil-fond fuq id-dettalji tal-abbozz bit-tama li nsibu linja komuni fejn dak li naqblu dwaru insbu kliem addattat li jesprimih.

Wara l-laqgħa Alternattiva Demokratika għaddiet lil Franco Debono bħala Chairman ta’ dan il-Kumitat Magħżul tal-Kamra tad-Deputati proposti għal tibdil fil-Kostituzzjoni dwar l-elezzjoni ġenerali. Imma dwar dan ngħidilkom darba oħra.

L-għażla ta’ Lawrence Gonzi

Lawrence Gonzi kellu għażla.

Fil-Parlament ġew ippreżentati żewġ mozzjonijiet.

L-ewwel mozzjoni kienet il-mozzjoni numru 260 imressqa minn Franco Debono u li kienet tittratta dwar diversi miżuri ta’ riforma u tibdil li l-istess Debono ħass li kien meħtieġ fil-qasam tal-Ġustizzja u l-Intern. Kienet mozzjoni li ġiet ippreżentata nhar it-8 ta’ Novembru 2011. Għalkemm kritika il-mozzjoni kienet essenzjalment waħda posittiva.

It-tieni mozzjoni kienet il-mozzjoni numru 280 ipreżentata mill-kelliema tal-Opposizzjoni Michael Falzon u Jose’ Herrera nhar il-5 ta’ Diċembru 2011. Kienet mozzjoni ta’ kritika u ċensura. Mozzjoni negattiva.

Lawrence Gonzi u ta’ madwaru ippreferew illi l-ewwel ipoġġu fuq l-agenda l-mozzjoni negattiva. Ippreferew li jagħżlu azzjoni negattiva flok azzjoni posittiva.

Ir-riżultat tal-lum hu l-konsegwenza. Dak li ġara illum Lawrence Gonzi ġiebu b’idejħ mgħejjun minn l-għorrief ta’ madwaru. Bil-ħsieb u bil-għaqal seta ġie evitat.

X’ser jiġri minn issa l-quddiem hu biss tiġbid. L-elezzjoni qegħda wara l-bieb.