WATCH: Environmental NGOs Put Serious Pressure On Malta Leaders Ahead Of Election
Ten green proposals for our future
Labelled as The Great Environment Credibility Challenge, a discussion took place this morning between Malta's party leaders and a coalition of the islands' environmental NGOs. Ten green proposals were presented to Joseph Muscat, Simon Busuttil, Arnold Cassola and Marlene Farrugia in a challenge for the leaders to "prove their environmental credentials".
Lovin Malta was present to moderate the event. Here's what the ten main proposals were about.
1. Putting ODZ land in the constitution
The serious name for this proposal is the 'Constitutional entrenchment of ODZ areas', and is basically asking ODZ areas to be properly listed and protected from development. Also, the NGOs proposed that citizens should be allowed to sue the State if ODZ land is threatened.
2. Planning processes in need of a major environmental overhaul
The Planning Authority (PA) and Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) should be on equal footing with an equal say when it comes to planning issues. There needs to be a greater presence of civil society and NGO representatives on the PA boards. Also – high-rise masterplans, land reclamation need better vetting, and legalisation on noise pollution needs to happen.
3. More trees and nature
The NGOs argued for renewed afforestation efforts on public land with community involvement to encourage ownership. They also suggested the introduction of a Natura 2000 management agency. Finally – the existing list of protected floral and faunal species should be increased and fines should be handed out for poaching any of them.
4. Fossil fuel-free Malta
A push for a climate change adaption strategy and a vision for a fossil fuel-free Malta was discussed. Basically, there's a need for Malta to face the reality of climate change in a serious way.
5. Electric cars and pedestrian & bicycle priority
Traffic needs to be tackled head on. How? Through initiatives for electric cars, introduction of pedestrian and bicycles-only roads, subsidies for electric bikes, and fines for vehicles with high fume generation.
6. Modernising waste
Compulsory separation of waste needs to happen, and the support of kitchen-fitted garbage disposals could supplement this. Littering of plastic into our seas needs to be tackled now. The country also needs a National Water Management Plan to ensure rainwater re-use and introduce a flood tax for buildings which don't have a rainwater re-use system.
7. Safeguarding our built heritage
Our architectural heritage needs to be protected, even if its outside Urban Conservation Areas (UCAs). Chiefly, the Valletta and Cittadella skylines need to be safeguarded against incongruous development proposals.
8. Unlawful fishing needs
Strict enforcement of existing sustainable fishing laws need to be implemented properly. Meaning – explosives, poisons, certain nets and dragging cannot happen anymore.
9. Introducing a Wildlife Crime Unit
Current hunting fines shouldn't be relaxed, and violations of environmental laws should be dealt with by a Wildlife Crime Unit.
10. Environmental Impact Assessment pressure
Major construction works need to be approved by Parliament only after environmental studies have been carried out. EIA studies need to be strengthened and not prejudiced by political statements.