Sunday, 3rd March, 2013
Concrete path choking trees
A set of old Aleppo trees on the pavement in Burmarrad Road have been choked with cement as a contractor filled up the square soil bases, leaving the trunks sticking out.
The cementing of the tree bases, done a few weeks ago, has been slammed by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, which said it was “appalled”.
The authority “is appalled that such methods of work are still carried out in this day and age,” a spokesman said.
The complete surfacing around tree trunks in cement “is not only insensitive to our environment but constitutes bad practice since it may adversely affect the tree growth,” the spokesman added. The planning authority said it was investigating the matter to find those responsible for these works “so as to reinstate the site to the authority’s satisfaction”.
When contacted, Transport Malta, responsible for the arterial road, said the contractor had been instructed to rectify the situation. “The Contractor proceeded with works before receiving detailed instructions. These works are not acceptable and the contractor has already been instructed to rectify,” a Transport Malta spokesman said.
The cementing of the tree bases was also slammed by biodiversity expert Alfred Baldacchino who said that it would damage and possibly endanger the trees. The trees absorb rainwater, which falls into the soil, and their roots need air. Once the roots grow out wards, then the cement would be damaged and people would complain that the trees were damaging the pavement, Mr Baldacchino said.
Mr Baldacchino had received photographs of the cemented bases and immediately reported it to the authorities and the planning authority, which informed him it would investigate the matter. “The authorities’ appreciation of trees is nil- irrespective of national and international obligations,” Instead of saying it was going to look into the matter, the planning authority should hire a Contractor with the right machinery to break up the cement and send the bill to Transport Malta, he argued. “There is nothing to investigate – it’s dangerous to the tree and procrastinating doesn’t help”.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS – Alfred E. Baldacchino
According to the L.N. 200 of 2011 - Trees and Woodlands Protection Regulations, 2011 - MEPA, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority is the Competent Authority responsible for the administration, implementation and enforcement of these regulations.
Provision 12: No person shall fell … or in any way destroy or attempt to destroy, damage or attempt to damage, any tree or part thereof listed in Schedule I or Schedule II … except by permission of the Competent Authority:
Provision 14: (1) No person shall dump or attempt to dump… chemical or any other substance near any tree listed in Schedule I or Schedule II … which may harm any such tree…
Provision 29: (1) Any person who: —
(a) fails to comply with any provision of these regulations,
(b) contravenes any restriction, prohibition or requirement imposed by or under these regulations, or
(c) acts in contravention of any provisions of these regulations, or
(d) conspires or attempts to conspire, aids or attempts to aid, abets or attempts to abet, counsels or attempts to counsel, procures or attempts to procure any other person to contravene the provisions of these regulations, or to fail to comply with any such provision, including any order lawfully given in terms of any provision of these regulations, or to contravene any restrictions, prohibitions or requirement imposed by or under the said regulations, shall be guilty of an offence against these regulations.
The trees in question are listed in Schedule II of the Tree Protection Regulations:
Pinus halepensis Żnuber; Siġar tal-Prinjol; Siġar tal-Arżnu; Aleppo Pine; Jerusalem Pine
MEPA has all the necessary legal tools, and also obligations, to protect Malta’s biodiversity, including trees. Unfortunately it cannot be said that it is on the side of the people who want to protect Malta’s natural heritage, when it comes to taking action. This is so evident when MEPA is faced with great and irreparable damages to trees done by Government Ministries, mainly that responsible for transport and that responsible for landscaping. In such cases MEPA is completely impotent (see mutilated trees on Rabat Road)
This is just another strong justification that the protection of the Environment should never be merged or under the remote responsibility of any Planning Authority.
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Posted by Baldacchino Alfred E.
Following my contribution to The Times on the 26th August 2011, MEPA has officially replied on 6th September 2011, confirming all the illegalities mentioned in my contribution. My initial reply is also attached. May be interesting to readers. I am attaching both the link to the MEPA’s letter, which is self explanatory, and also a copy of the letter itself and the subsequent comments by readers.
I am attaching some photos as a reminder of the illegalities which had to be corrected by the 7th September 2011, according to MEPA’s enforcement notice (ECF 434/11) to Transport Malta. Besides, according to MEPA, this would also show that my assertion that MEPA “like pale melancholy, sits retired, staring and ruminating its impotency to control the mauling of environmental and public assets” is wrong.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Peter Gingell, communications manager,
Malta Environment and Planning Authority, Floriana
Illegal brick wall on the Rabat road
I refer to the article Trees, Rubble Walls And BSS (Alfred E. Baldacchino, August 26). Mr Baldacchino highlights the incident whereby works carried out during the construction of a new bus interchange facility, along the Rabat road near Ta’ Qali, resulted in a rural rubble wall being demolished and replaced by a brick wall, while concrete was shoddily laid around a number of Aleppo trees. Mr Baldacchino uses this incident to assert that the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, “like pale melancholy, sits retired, staring and ruminating its impotency to control the mauling of environmental and public assets”.
Contrary to the negative impression Mr Baldacchino tries to create for readers, the authority can confirm that on August 23, a few days before Mr Baldacchino’s article was published, Mepa had already issued an enforcement notice (ECF 434/11) against Transport Malta for having illegally demolished a protected rural rubble wall and replaced it with a brick wall. The authority also requested Transport Malta to remove the concrete from around the circumference of the affected tree trunks and under supervision, construct a “konka” to allow for better water percolation.
The authority has given Transport Malta up to 15 days to remove the illegality, following which Mepa may then take direct action. The Enforcement Directorate and the Environment Protection Directorate are monitoring closely the situation and inspected the site again last week. If, for Mr Baldacchino, the authority has been caught sitting “retired” and “staring”, then he is mistaken.
While the authority continues to do its utmost to ensure the implementation and enforcement of planning and environment regulations, it reminds the public and all government entities that we all bear shared responsibility in safeguarding our natural and built heritage.
Mr Tony Camilleri
Would anyone blame the people who think rightly or wrongly that corruption is rampant in MEPA?
Alfred E. Baldacchino
Indeed I am greatly obliged to MEPA for proving me right all along. MEPA has finally found its voice, 11 days after my article (26th August) saying it acted on the 23rd August, but found it only convenient to inform the public today. 15 days from August 23rd is September 7th: in two days time. MEPA will be hearing from me again, no doubt about it.
MEPA also felt offended when I said that it “like pale melancholy, sits retired, staring and ruminating its impotency to control the mauling of environmental and public assets”. Such works should not have taken place in the first place, and not accomplished before MEPA acted and gave 15 days to the Transport Authority to correct illegalities, after which MEPA MAY consider taking action.
Thanks also to MEP for stressing that “all governemnt entities ..bear shared responsibility in safeguarding our natural and built heritage” This has been my contention all along. Now MEPA is under the portfolio of the Prime Minister who was the chairman of the National Commission for Sustainable Development.” If MEPA does ‘not sit retired’ it could easily have whispered in the PM’s ears about the utiliy of such commission, before it was idle since 2006, and disbanded in 2008.
Let us wait for 7th Sepotember, 15 days given in the enforcement notice (ECF 434/11). to see if MEPA is “like pale melancholy, sits retired, staring and ruminating its impotency to control the mauling of environmental and public assets”.
PS – with reference to the ‘konka’ in MEPA’s letter, in Englsih this is referred to as a watering trench or watering well. A good Maltese dictionary can tell you this.
“The authority has given TransportMaltaup to 15 days to remove the illegality, following which Mepa may then take direct action”. MEPA ‘may’ take direct action, How? by turning the clock back. It’s never been done before and I believe will not be done now too.
What, no guts to stick up to the minister in charge. Action should be taken BEFORE and not after the crime against nature has taken place. Will the rubble wall be rebuilt? I doubt it very much and as usual the illegal stone wall will be sanctioned and more trees will die too. Another joke or what?
Alfred E. Zahra
If you or I want to get rid of a rubble wall or a tree, how can MEPA stop us? Not unless we are stupid enough to inform it of our plans beforehand. Mepa unfortunately is not like Joseph Muscat. It does not have Godly powers.
Mr Peter Murray
What hope do we have when governmental entity fail to obey the law or take the appropriate action when found out and ordered to take remedial action.Yet again we have Mr.Gingell only responding to complaints/concerns expressed via newspaper publications, yet seldom, if ever, to complaints lodged individually with his
Leave a Comment » | Aleppo Pine, Alfred E Baldacchino, Baldacchino, Bisazza Street Syndrome, BSS, environment, Kummissjoni Nazzjonali għall-Iżvilupp Sostenibbli, Lawrence Gonzi, Malta Environment and Planning Authority, MEPA, National Sustainable Development Commission, Prime Minister, Rbat Road, sigar, Tree Protection Regulations, trees | Permalink
Posted by Baldacchino Alfred E.
August 26, 2011
Trees, rubble walls and BSS
Alfred E. Baldacchino
A few weeks ago, workmen were laying out a pavement on either side of the Rabat road near the Ta’ Qali intersection. A layby for the new buses, I thought! And so it was.
Little thought, if any, was given either to the Aleppo pine trees and the rubble walls along the stretches of the new pavement. The Aleppo pines, which characterise this stretch of road leading to Rabat, show a number of scars, now including fresh ones, resulting from mismanagement. Some of the trees are completely engulfed in concrete, some with nails hammered in them, further sealing their miserable fate at the hands of unsustainable mismanagement of the living natural heritage.
In the same stretch, part of the rubble walls were also heavily damaged! In an ingeneous, indigenous way, a brick wall was built on the rubble wall. As I slowed in the traffic to clear the roundabout intersecting the Żebbuġ, Mtarfa and Rabat roads – the one where sprinklers usually water much of the road as much as they water the turf – I could not help think and ask myself how the lack of coordination between ministries reigns supreme in this land.
A couple of weeks ago, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority declared new tree protection areas. In the same legal notice (200 of 2011), signed by the Prime Minister himself, there are two schedules of protected trees. The Aleppo pine trees along Rabat road are listed in schedule II. They are more than 50 years old and are growing in an outside development zone area.
Schedule II trees are protected to the extent that no person shall bury in the ground, dump, or deposit, any soil, manure, waste, rubbish, stones, rubble, scrap metal or any refuse near them; not even attempt to. Mepa is responsible for the administration, implementation and enforcement of these regulations.
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Posted by Baldacchino Alfred E.
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