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Maltese Environment

Sandro Chetcuti and his ill understanding of environmental lobby groups

The Malta Developer’s Association, headed by Sandro Chetcuti, stated that Environmental NGOs are a threat to development in Malta. In a country with a non-existent environmental conscience, a dismal track record on development, and governments that effectively give more protection to developers, should we be surprised with comments made by such people?

In late 2013, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) approved a development permit for a monstrous project, consisting of a total of 744 new apartments on 12 floors and thousands of square metres of retail and office space – NGOs campaigned against this project, but much to their avail. One wonders why Malta requires an additional 744 apartments when there are so many disused properties. Despite the fact that NGOs sought the aid of the Ombudsman, who did not approve MEPAs decision to green light the project, the Prime Minister sided with MEPA and the developers  (Photo credit: TimesofMalta).

Someone really needs to remind the MDA that the whole point of NGOs is to provide pressure and awareness against the development of sensitive areas. In a healthy democracy, stakeholder participation is encouraged and lauded as a cornerstone in vital decision making processes.

As such, I ask the MDA and the general public: What could be more rudimentary in the eight most densely populated country in the world than a transparent and well informed decision making process involving issues of development?

Ironically enough, the MDA later retracted its original statements and insisted that only a small proportion of developers see NGOs as a detriment to their business. However, this did not stop it from publicly taking another dig at NGOs by claiming that they are an uncooperative lot.

The reality is that the NGO-Developers communication stream has always been one sided. Which side do you think calls the shots? The mostly voluntary run NGOs that receive scraps for government funds, or the MDA that has been historically linked with both political parties?

I had already indicated in a previous post that Malta’s population is expected to peak in 2025 and decline thereafter. Even if adjusted for rates of emigration and immigration, the existing property in Malta will most definitely suffice for current and future generations – bar the development of facilities which are associated with an ever growing tourism market. I am extremely curious to know what the MDA is planning to construct in the next 11 years before the Maltese population reaches its estimated maximum.

Till then, members of the Maltese public are once again left as spectators, whilst money hungry organisations such as the MDA continue on their destructive development rampage.


Join the discussion

  1. Astrid Vella

    I wouldn’t say that the NGO challenge to the Mistra project was to no avail. The original idea was to build a tower of 44 that towered over Mellieha so that the speculators could sell views to Gozo. NGO lobbying brought that down to some 12 floors, which is still illegal as the law stipulates no tall buildings on ridges. But the MEPA Board decided to ignore that.

  2. Astrid Vella

    The developers blame NGOs because they don’t want to admit that the writing has been on the wall for years, and much of it is due to their greed. MEPA calculated that Malta needs 2,000 new homes a year, yet under political pressure fuelled by developers, it approved 9-13,000 units a year, many of them sub-standard. Developers talk out of self-interest, while NGOs have nothing to gain, only the national benefit at heart.

    • Antoine Borg Micallef

      I often stop and ponder whether the Maltese community will ever wake up from this extended period of hibernation where they accept any project that the government sanctions

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