eNGOs have every right to challenge a Lands Authority decision to grant guardianship over the woodlands in Miżieb and Aħrax to the hunters lobbyist group, the Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FKNK), a courtroom said today.
The decision was issued earlier today by Judge Lawrence Mintoff.
The agreement between the Lands Authority and the FKNK consisted in the Government granting rights of concession of use and management over the public woodlands. This decision was met with outcry from the general public.
The Tribunal for Administrative Review had decided on the 21st January 2021 that BirdLife Malta, Moviment Graffitti, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Friends of the Earth (Malta), Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar and Prof. Edward Mallia, did not have juridical interest in the case. This means that they did not qualify in order to challenge the decision taken and consequently initiate legal action in court.
At the end of October last year, the eNGOs mentioned above had instituted the legal proceedings in question, three days before a sit-down protest was held in front of Castille, in objection to the signing of this deal.
Following months of hearings and gathering of evidence, the Tribunal ruled that the Lands Authority’s deal can be challenged. The decision made in January was furthermore repealed, rejecting the conclusions. The Court ordered the Tribunal to immediately proceed with the case.
A separate court action has been filed by the Ramblers Association, represented by Dr Joseph Ellis and Dr Martin Farrugia.
On the 9th October 2020, a secret signing of the agreement took place, without the presence of the press, which granted the FKNK the formal concession over Aħrax and Miżieb.
The agreements were signed by the Transport Minister Ian Borg, Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri and Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and Construction Chris Agius.
The signing mentioned above, was supposed to take place on 11th October 2020, however due to unrest by civil society and outcry by the general public, the date of the signing was moved forward and held in private. The Government gave the green light for this secret signing, due to fear of further outcry.
However, today’s judgement can be seen as a step in the right direction in order to reclaim autonomy over the ordeal and redistribute public lands back to the people.
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