Illegal brick wall on the Rabat road

September 13, 2011

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.

Blatant infringement of the Trees and Woodland Protection Regulations published on 24 ta’ May, 2011, over the signature of the Prime Minister, the Minster responsible for the Environment.

The brutal pruning of the protected Aleppo Pine, which could only have been carried out by approval from the Minister of Rural Affairs and the Minster for the Environmnet.

How the rubble wall protection regulations was brought to disrepute for one and all to see

When protected national heritage meets financial considerations and political decisions - despite the 'high level' of responsibility given to 'sustainable development'

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

Today, 12:13

Would anyone blame the people who think rightly or wrongly that corruption is rampant in MEPA?

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Today, 10:35

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.

Bernard Storace

Today, 09:34

“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

Today, 16:08

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

Today, 09:12

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


Il-kapriċċ tal-proprjetà vojta (2) Ħadd mhu jerfa’ l-ħtija tan-nuqqas ta’ ppjanar

July 26, 2011

Il-kapriċċ tal-proprjetà vojta (2) 
Ħadd mhu jerfa’ l-ħtija tan-nuqqas ta’ ppjanar

minn aleander balzan

KIF irraportat minn din il-gazzetta nhar il-Ħadd li għadda, fi ftit snin żdiedu bl-eluf in-numru ta’ proprjetajiet vojta f’pajjiżna. Skont iċ-chairman tal-Awtorità tal-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar (MEPA), Austin Walker, huwa stmat li llum għandna 76,000 proprjetà vojta. Minkejja dan ħadd mhu qiegħed jerfa’ l-ħtija ta’ dan in-nuqqas ta’ ppjanar. Fi kliem l-ambjentalisti Alfred E. Baldacchino u Astrid Vella dan in-nuqqas ta’ ppjanar qiegħed iwassal għal ħela ta’ riżorsi enormi.

Alfred E. Baldacchino, li huwa speċjalizzat fl-ippjanar u l-immaniġjar tal-ambjent argumenta mat-TORĊA li dawn il-proprjetajiet vojta “huma ħela ta’ riżorsi finanzjarji kif ukoll riżorsi naturali li ftit li xejn għandna minn fejn naħlu. Dan huwa wkoll nuqqas ta’ ippjanar serju għaliex wieħed qed iħares biss lejn ir-riżultat fiż-żmien il-qasir.”

“L-impatt fuq l-ambjent hu tant negattiv li qiegħed ikun hemm ħela ta’ riżorsi naturali, bħat-teħid tal-art, anki ta’ valur kbir ekoloġiku, storiku, u rikreattiv, tifrik ta’ sistemi fl-ippjanar tal-ambjent bħal sistemi tal-ġbir tal-ilma tax-xita, sfreġju u qerda ta’ sistemi ekoloġiċi bħall-ispeċi ta’ fawna u flora, u produzzjoni ta’ skart li jirriżulta mill-bini,” jargumenta Baldacchino li jgħid li dawn ir-riżorsi jistgħu jintużaw f’oqsma oħra.

“L-użu tar-riżorsi kemm naturali kif ukoll finanzjarji jistgħu faċilment jintużaw f’attivitajiet oħra minflok bini u bini li ma hawnx bżonnu. Permessi għar-restawr xorta waħda jkun hemm bżonnhom, imma hemm bżonn ukoll diversifikazzjoni. Il-’valur’ ta’ dawn il-ħela ta’ riżorsi mill-aspett ekonomiku qiegħed isir għas-spejjeż tal-valur soċjali u dak ambjentali,” żied Baldacchino.

Responsabbiltà tal-banek 
Fil-ħarġa ta’ nhar il-Ħadd li għadda l-ekonomista Joe Vella Bonnici argumenta li s-settur bankarju qiegħed ikun iktar kawt. “Ta’ min jgħid li llum is-settur bankarju rari jsellef għal bini ġdid. Dan wara ħafna twissijiet mill-International Monetary Fund li l-banek tagħna kellhom exposure qawwi fuq il-proprjetà,” qal Vella Bonnici.

Alfred E. Baldacchino u Astrid Vella wkoll jitkellmu dwar il-banek u fuqhom jitfgħu anke responsabbiltà.

“Naħseb li hawn tidħol ir-responsabbiltà kemm tal-banek lokali kif ukoll tal-MEPA. Sfortunatament, il-banek m’ għandhomx ħjiel tal-Corporate Social Responsibility u jaħsbu li għax iqassmu xi ċekk stampat kbir kbir qegħdin jilħqu dan il-għan. Għalihom imbasta jisilfu l-flus u jdaħħlu l-interessi. Jekk proġetti jibqgħu vojta u fil-proċess jinħlew ir-riżorsi jgħidlulek li mhix responsabbiltà tagħhom,” qal Baldacchino.

Astrid Vella żżid mal-argument u min-naħa tagħha telabora dwar l-impatt li dawn id-deċiżjonijiet qegħdin iħallu fuq is-soċjetà Maltija.

“It-twemmin popolari li s-suq għandu jirregola lilu nnifsu huwa żbaljat għax wieħed ikun qiegħed jassumi li huma biss l-iżviluppaturi li jġorru r-riskju li qegħdin jieħdu. Kuntrarju għal dan it-twemmin, rapport dwar l-istabbilità finanzjarja tal-Bank Ċentrali, għas-sena 2010, jgħid li d-dgħufija preżenti fis-settur tal-proprjetà tpoġġi riskju fuq is-saħħa tas-settur finanzjarju Malti dan għax il-proprjetà tirrappreżenta ħafna mis-self tal-banek. Din toħloq riskju fi żmien li s-sitwazzjoni tal-proprjetà qiegħda twassal għal ‘defaulting loans’,” tispjega Vella.

L-irwol tal-MEPA 
Iż-żewġ ambjentalisti jaqblu dwar il-falliment tal-MEPA fi rwol tagħha ta’ regolatur.

“Mill-banda l-oħra, il-MEPA, li suppost għandha r-responsabbiltà dwar l-ippjanar ma nistax nifhem kif 76,000 post vojt wieħed jista’ jgħidli li huwa ppjanar tajjeb, bl-impatti negattivi kollha li dawn iġibu magħhom, kemm direttament kif ukoll indirettament,” jargumenta Baldacchino.

Astrid Vella żżid ma’ dan l-argument: “Il-falliment tal-MEPA li tassumi r-responsabbiltajiet tagħha bħala regolatur – li ħolqot mentalità ta’ ġirja biex nibnu – mhux biss irrovinat l-irħula tagħna u l-qalba tal-villaġġi iżda ironikament wasslet għal tnaqqis fil-bejgħ tal-proprjetà.”

“Il-MEPA falliet fid-dmir tagħha li tirrikonċilja d-drittijiet li wieħed jiżviluppa l-proprjetà privata ma’ dak ta’ saħħa tajba. Li neħħejna d-djar biex għamilna l-appartamenti għandu effett doppju għax iwassal għal iktar karozzi f’żoni residenzjali,” qalet Vella li elaborat dwar l-effetti ta’ dan il-bini żejjed, b’mod partikolari fuq saħħet in-nies.

Alfred E. Baldacchino jċanfar ukoll lill-awtoritajiet għax għażlu triq li wasslet għal iktar bini ġdid flok irranġar u restawr ta’ dak li għandna.

“Hawn ħafna bini mitluq, qadim, storiku, u mibni b’konsiderazzjoni ambjentali siewja, imma n-nuqqas ta’ ippjanar li jeżisti jwassal biex minflok dan jitranġa u jkun restawrat, dan jitwaqqa’ u jittella’ bini ġdid, fil-forma ta’ kerrejjiet moderni, biex ngħidu hekk. Dan minkejja li hawn kemm domanda għal dawn il-postijiet (bini qadim restawrat), kif ukoll hawn kuxjenza qawwija nazzjonali biex dawn ikunu restawrati kif ukoll salvati. Imma mid-dehra dan mhux parti tar-responsabbiltà ta’ min huwa inkarigat biex jara li l-ippjanar ta’ dawn il-gżejjer isir minn kull aspett, kemm soċjali, kemm ambjentali kif ukoll ekonomiku. L-importanza li tingħata hija biss mill-aspett ekonomiku u l-oħrajn jiġu kompletament injorati. Ħadd ma jgħid li huwa responsabbli għal dan. Anzi kulħadd jgħid li mhux huwa responsabbli,” jgħid Baldacchino.

Ħtija tal-politiċi 
“Il-politiċi tagħna jiddefendu iktar żvilupp billi jgħidu li l-ġenituri qegħdin jipprovdu l-appartamenti għal uliedhom. Din il-ġustifikazzjoni ntużat fl-2006 meta kien hemm l-iskema ta’ razzjonalizazzjoni u medded ta’ art fil-kampanja ttieħdu biex jinbnew mijiet ta’ appartamenti minn żviluppatur wieħed.
“Din twassal għal mistoqsija oħra: jekk il-ġenituri qegħdin jipprovdu l-appartamenti lil uliedhom, l-eluf ta’ appartamenti tal-ispekulaturi lil min se jinbiegħu? Żgur mhux lill-barranin, għax mill-2009 kien hemm biss 300 bejgħ fejn kienu involuti l-barranin. Il-MEPA kkalkulat li l-ħtieġa annwali għad-djar ġodda hija madwar 2,000, iżda mill-2005 sal-2009 kienu approvati bejn 8,000 u 12,000 unit fis-sena,” tgħid Astrid Vella li tappella għal studju serju u tisħaq li din il-problema għandha tkun indirizzata.

“In-numru ta’ postijiet vojta huwa destinat li jikber iktar, hekk kif hemm permessi approvati mill-MEPA li għad irid isir il-bini tagħhom u hemm ukoll iktar proġetti kbar ippjanati. Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar temmen li l-kwistjoni ta’ żvilupp iktar milli meħtieġ għandha tkun indirizzata. Jekk iktar appartamenti se jkunu approvati, fuq liema bażi se niġġustifikaw it-telfien ta’ iktar kampanja?” ittemm tgħid Vella.

Baldacchino wkoll jitkellem dwar l-irwol tal-politiċi u ma jdurx mal-lewża.

“Ir-riżultat ta’ dan kollu huwa li din hija politika żbaljata tal-entitajiet governattivi u pubbliċi li kulħadd jara l-parti tiegħu biss u ma jimpurtahx minn entitajiet ohra. Anki f ‘deċiżjonijet żgħar jittieħdu deċiżjonijiet li jmorru kontra tfassil u deċiżjonijiet ta’ entitajet oħra.

“Dan jidher u jinħass bħal ngħidu aħna fil-ħarsien u mmaniġġjar tal-ilma, f’dak tat-trasport, f’dak tal-biodiversità, u ħafna u ħafna oħrajn. F’dan il-qasam huwa ġenerazzjoni ta’ xogħol artifiċjali, għas-spejjeż tar-riżorsi nazzjonali, biex taparsi jinħoloq ix-xogħol, xogħol li għandu ħafna prezzijiet u piżijiet moħbija, li qed tħallas għalihom is-soċjetà u l-ambjent b’mod ġenerali,” qal Baldacchino, li fakkar ukoll kif il-Kummissjoni Nazzjonali għall-Iżvilupp Sostenibbli għadha ma bdietx tiltaqa’.
“Opportunità li kien hemm u li għad hemm biex dawn il-fares jinqatgħu kienet li tibda taħdem il-Kummissjoni Nazzjonali għall-Iżvilupp Sostenibbli. Imma din tpoġġiet fuq l-ixkaffa tistenna l-mument meta jkun tard wisq u l-pajjiż jibqa’ jħallas minn imnieħru. Imbagħad forsi tirxoxta jew inkella titfassal oħra bħalha,” temm Baldacchino.

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