Credit where credit is due

April 18, 2019

Alfred E Baldacchino

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Following concerns expressed by members of the public, eNGOs, and individuals, on the destruction of biodiversity in country paths which were being widened and covered with concrete, Environment Resources Authority (ERA) ordered Infrastructure Malta to halt the works, and issued a stop and compliance order. Furthermore, according to press reporting, ERA ordered Infrastructure Malta to reinstate the country paths to their original state.

One hopes that all country paths mismanaged by Infrastructure Malta will be reinstated to their original state. One also hopes that this is the end of an era where biodiversity is regarded as ‘ħaxix ħażin’ (good-for-nothing-vegetation) and that such mentality will be put to rest.

One cannot but applaud the stand ERA has taken and look out to more similar decisions in the near future to protect biodiversity.

The following is one of the article which appeared in the media.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Rabat country roads being reinstated after controversial widening

Recent concrete works encroached adjacent land

Keith Micallef

 

Country roads at Wied l-Isqof in Rabat are being reinstated to their original state. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Country roads at Wied l-Isqof in Rabat are being reinstated to their original state. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Some of the concrete controversially laid on country roads in a Rabat valley is being pulled up again by Infrastructure Malta on orders from the environment watchdog, which wants the roads to be reinstated to their original footprint.

The controversy erupted last month when it transpired that a number of narrow country roads used primarily by farmers at Wied l-Isqof were being widened, as part of a government project to “reconstruct” rural roads.

Faced by this outrage, the Environment Resources Authority ordered Infrastructure Malta to halt the works, through what it called a stop and compliance order. The measure was taken because the project was resulting in “biodiversity destruction”, ERA had said.

Infrastructure Malta argued that the roads in question were not being widened beyond their original footprint – even though evidence on the ground suggested otherwise.

However, an ERA spokeswoman confirmed that Infrastructure Malta had, in fact, encroached on adjacent land. She said that concreting beyond the original footprint was being removed by the roads agency’s contractors through the use of appropriate heavy machinery.

Several truckloads of material have been removed and dispatched for appropriate disposal to enable the area’s habitat to regenerate even in the area previously concreted, she said.

An onsite visit confirmed that the roads had been narrowed, with a stretch of soil replacing the concrete along the perimeter.

In its reply, ERA said it had intervened because the roadworks were degrading the ecosystem of the area beyond the asphalted area.

Among other things, the interventions had altered the physical profile of the valley and the natural course of the freshwater stream to the detriment of the biodiversity and the natural characteristics of the site, the spokeswoman said.

Environmentalists had denounced the works, saying vegetation was being obliterated as concrete was being poured beyond the existing footprint, damaging flora and fauna on both sides of the road.

Biodiversity expert and former assistant director of the environment protection directorate at the now defunct Malta environment and planning authority, Alfred Baldacchino, had warned that turning these roads into “highways” could have a detrimental effect on farmers due to the increase in traffic.

He also criticised the project, saying the concrete was blocking the percolation of rainwater to the water table.

aebaldacchino@gmail.com 

related articles:

More biodiversity destruction with EU funds – confirmed

EU funds destroy Maltese biodiversity

 

 

 

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Kummenti fuq il-Baġit mill-aspett tal-ambjent

November 5, 2018
il-Ħadd, 4 ta’ Novembru 2018

Tħawwil ta’ siġra għal kull wild

… kliem li aktar juri l-falliment tal-Minsteru tal-Ambjent

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Dwar l-ambjent u l-baġit li ġie ppreżentat smajna ħafna. L-argumenti ma jonqsux. IT-TORĊA tkellmet mal-ekoloġista Alfred E. Baldacchino, dwar il-ħsibijiet tiegħu rigward il-miżuri li ttieħdu fil-baġit dwar l-ambjent. Alfred E. Baldacchino jgħidilna li:  

Filwaqt li taqsima 5.0 ‘Ninvestu fl-Ambjent’ fiha daħla bi kliem sabiħ u ta’ tifhir, bħal: Il-Gvern jinsab konvint li investiment fl-ambjent se jfisser ukoll tkabbir u titjib fil-kwalità tal-ħajja ta’ kull wieħed u waħda minna, imma ftit li xejn hemm indikazzjoni ta’ miżuri jew għajnuna finanzjarja għall-ambjent, fil-milja kollha tiegħu, “biex dan il-qasam daqstant importanti u sensittiv jingħata l-attenzjoni li jixraqlu.”

“5.4 Aktar siġar”

L-unika miżura li tispikka dwar l-ambjent fid-diskors tal-Ministru tal-Finanzi hija li: “Biex inkomplu nsebbħu l-ambjent, mis-sena d-dieħla l-Gvern se jkun qed jiżra’ siġra f’isem kull tifel u tifla li jitwieldu f’pajjiżna. Dan ifisser li kull sena se jkunu qegħdin jitħawlu madwar 4,000 xitel ta’ siġar.“

Għalija dan huwa kliem li aktar juri l-falliment tal-Minsteru tal-Ambjent milli xi ħaġa oħra.  U bil-viżjoni li bħalissa tirrenja fil-Minsteru tal-Ambjent, din tista’ tkun aktar ta’ ħsara milli ta’ ġid mill-aspett ta’ biodiversità.

5.3 Twaqqif ta’ Ambjent Malta

“Din is-sena qegħdin isiru preparamenti biex titwaqqaf Ambjent Malta bl- iskop li tindokra u tieħu ħsieb il-wirt naturali tagħna.” Pass tajjeb li jista’ jkollu riżultati pożittivi, dejjem jekk titmexxa fuq passi professjonali. Imma biex wieħed ikun jista’ jiffoka fuq “l-implimentazzjoni tal-immaniġġjar ta’ siti Natura 2000 filwaqt li se nkunu qegħdin nagħmlu l-kampanja tagħna aktar aċċessibbli għaċ-ċittadin” u “Permezz ta’ hekk se nkunu wkoll qegħdin nippromwovu infrastruttura ħadra għaż-żoni urbani tagħna.” hemm bżonn ta’ riżorsi, mhux biss finanzjarji imma anki kapitali.

Kif intqal ukoll l-Ambjent Malta sejra tkun responsabbli wkoll għat-‘tindif tal-widien’ u għat-tisbieħ tal-art jew kif inhu magħruf il-‘landscaping’.

Kont qed nistenna xi kumment x’se jsir bit-€8 miljun li qed jintefqu kull sena u li ftit li xejn qed ikun hemm riżultati professjonali u permanenti. Aktar u aktar issa li hemm l-Ambjent  Malta li qed tieħu ħsieb dan ix-xogħol. U aktar u aktar meta dawn it-€8 miljuni  qed jiqu amministrati fuq ftehim li mhux accessibli għall-poplu.

Meta wieħed iħares lejn it-tabelli li hemm mehmuża mad-diskors, isib li filwaqt li kien hemm xi żieda fl-ammont lill-Ministeru tal-Ambjent, ir-raġunijiet mogħtija għal dawn huma għall-“allowances” u għall-“Waste Management Strategy”. L-ebda referenza għall-Ambjent Malta.

Anki fil-qasam tal-infiq kapitali kien hemm tnaqqis ta’ madwar €4 miljun. U ma nafx kif dan kollu jista’ jwassal “biex dan il-qasam daqstant importanti u sensittiv jingħata l-attenzjoni li jixraqlu.”

5.5 Enerġija u Ilma

Ħsieb li nnotajt huwa li “Il-Gvern bħalissa qed jaħdem ukoll fuq il-Pjan Nazzjonali tal-Enerġija u l-Klima għall-perjodu 2020-2030” li wieħed jassumi li dan jinkludi wkoll lir-riżorsi tal-ilma ta’ dawn il-gżejjer. Veru daqsxejn tard wara l-isforzi kbar li saru minn għaqdiet u individwi f’dan il-qasam, l-aktar fuq il-ħela u t-teħid tal-ilma tal-pjan bla kontrol. Imma anki hawnhekk l-emfasi qegħda fuq is-settur domestiku. U dak industrijali, agrikolu, u ambjentali?

Huwa minnu li taqsima “5.7 Ilma”, titkellem fuq miżura li sejra “tipprovdi seba’ miljun metru kubu ta’ ilma ġdid, u b’hekk se tikkontribwixxi biex jinkisbu  riżultati sostenibbli tal-użu tal-ilma, parti kbira billi titnaqqas l-estrazzjoni tal-ilma ta’ taħt l-art” li huwa ħsieb tajjeb.

Inħoss li ma hemmx miżuri biżżejjed fil-qasam ambjentali ħolistiku.  Ngħidu aħna mizuri ambjentali edukattivi, ekoloġiċi, u anki fil-qasam tas-saħħa ambjentali, u nistaqsi lili nnifsi: dan huwa nuqqas ta’ provisjoni tal-Minsteru tal-Ambjent, jew inkella nuqqas ta’ amministrazzjoni li qed iċċaħħad lill-Minsteru tal-Ambjent biex jaħdem “biex dan il-qasam daqstant importanti u sensittiv jingħata l-attenzjoni li jixraqlu?”

aebaldacchino@gmail.com