The environmental destruction of Malta

November 19, 2019

Tuesday, 19th November 2019

The environmental destruction of Malta

Alfred E. Baldacchino

How to destroy a valley with EU funds.

The recent destruction at Wied Qirda by Infrastructure Malta is no surprise at all. Environment destruction has become synonymous with the agency in the ministry of Ian Borg.

This long wave of destruction is endless. Thousands of public trees (even the ministry has lost count of numbers) and the destruction of national biodiversity seem to be part of their interpretation of their mission statement, “to ensure [public   infrastructure] can sustainably and dynamically support the country’s current and future economic, environmental and social development”.

Concreting a valley bottom at Wied l-Isqof by Infrastructure Malta

Destruction of trees by Infrastructure Malta at Wied l-Isqof.

The covering with concrete/tarmac of valley paths at Wied l-Isqof, Rabat, Wied Ħesri, il-Lunzjata limits of Rabat, Imselliet, Wied is-Sewda, Wied Qirda and a number of valleys in Gozo, among others, means all have suffered extensive environmental damage.

Destroying old traditional rubble walls, replacing them with large franka stone blocks cladded with used building stones to give the impression that they are ħitan tax-xulliel is another contribution, while covering such new walls with concrete further renders them useless as an ecological habitat.

These can be seen at Buqana l/o Rabat, San Ġwann, Bir id-Deheb, Żejtun, everywhere where one can see a bulldozer paid for by the ministry with EU funds.

Such environmental destruction does not help any minister, especially one who is aspiring to climb the hierarchy in his political party.

Destruction of biodiversity at il-Lunzjata by Infrastructure Malta “in the name of farmers”.

Large franka blocks, cladded with used building stone, with a concrete top layer. Infrastructure Malta refer to these as ‘new rubble walls’.

Standard replies from Infrastructure Malta are nothing but puerile, devoid of any biodiversity protection and sustainability concepts. Who can believe IM today except those who are politically convinced that a circle is square? Even the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) is not always consulted.

One cannot help but think that this is the dictatorial fashion in which IM are spending EU funds, ignoring any suggestions, criticism and appeals by stakeholders.

The Central Link Project is another case where stakeholders are going to court regarding the way decisions have been taken without adequate consultation.

It is only natural that one asks the European Union if it can stop such destruction of priceless biodiversity in our small island, which is being financed by their funds.

It would also be helpful if European Union representatives come to see the works being done and not only meet officials behind closed doors but also meet the stakeholders, who are  ignored and not consulted.

Those who feel responsible for the country and its natural environment cannot stand by and stare at such destruction

Butchered trees at Santa Lucia where a journalist was threatened – 04.08.2019. 

The usual lame excuse by the ministry, that such destruction in valleys and country paths is to accommodate farmers, is indeed hilarious. To the extent that such valley roads are being tarmacked in lieu of potholed secondary streets in towns and villages, unless of course IM believes that there are no such roads to address.

The desperate position of Infrastructure Malta reached culmination point when it stated Wied Qirda was being tarmacked in an area which has for the last two years been earmarked for expropriation.

Works by Infrastructure Malta at Wied l-Isqof concreting valley paths and dislodging rubble walls “in the interest of farmers”.

Are we expected to applaud such ‘good governance’: tarmacking a private valley path which has as yet to be expropriated?

The news that the ministry of Ian Borg will also take over Ta’ Qali to transform it into a national park makes many hold their breath.

The mentality, lack of vision on biodiversity and approach of destroying the natural environment by this ministry’s agency cannot but lead to another environmental disaster, funded by the EU.

About 8 indigenous Holm Oak trees eradicated from Balzan valley, near Lija Cemetery, to widen the road. Works done by Infrastructure Malta.

The importation of trees grown in different habitats overseas, even if they are indigenous, to be planted as new trees or to replace mature ones would only please the chosen ‘landscaper’ or his representative.

For the record, “The Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure had appealed a tribunal’s (The Information and Data Protection Appeals Tribunal) decision and filed a court case (45/2017) against the Commissioner for Information and Data Protection, before the first hall of the Civil Court” for ordering the ministry to make available the public contract between government and ELC. Another official stand by this ministry against freedom of information on environmental matters.

One would be justified to ask what minister Borg is trying to achieve?

With his Infrastructure Malta at the helm of such destructive projects, he stands to lose not only his environmental credibility, if there is anything left to lose, but also his approach at handling, implementing and ensuring “sustainably and dynamically support the ongoing optimisation of the road network”.

Work is being executed by unprofessional personnel, who cannot see any light towards the need of the professional use, management and protection of biodiversity in a sustainable way, but blindfoldedly bulldoze over all stakeholders.

Those who feel responsible for the country and its natural environment, which has been loaned to us by future generations, cannot stand by and stare at such destruction.

Not everybody has a square-circled mentality in this country, and there are many conscientious people too in the party to which Minister Borg belongs.

Who would have thought that an old friend of mine with whom environmental matters were discussed would today be opposing such noble environmental principles?

It is important that future generations will know who was at the helm of such environmental destruction with the help of EU funds. Funds which could have been better used in a sustainable way for the benefit of society and the environment.

The legacy of environmental devastation, left by Infrastructure Malta, is there for one and all to see. Wied Qirda is another such legacy in their long list.

related articles:

Fake rubble walls ‘are illegal’

Environment Landscaping Conundrum

Environment hit by EU funds

“For our trees”

More biodiversity destruction with EU funds – confirmed

EU funds destroy Maltese biodiversity

‘Destroying trees to make way for cars is a big mistake’


Environment hit by EU funds

July 27, 2019

Saturday, 27th July, 2019

Alfred E Baldacchino

On July 18, the Planning Authority approved the Attard Central Link Project for which the EU is going to contribute €55 million.

There were a lot of questions and doubts on this project which everybody hoped a meeting would iron out. Not only were these not answered but even more doubts were cast.

The meeting was opened by the Infrastructure Malta CEO, Engineer Fredrick Azzopardi, representing the Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure. He tried to convince those present that this Central Link project has many benefits. Stakeholders subsequently expressed more doubts and asked more questions, confirming the lack of public consultations.

Here is a résumé of the questions:

Those present for the meeting asked how such a project would be beneficial for full-time or part-time farmers, and those involved in animal husbandry.

There were also questions about the loss of 22,000 square metres of agricultural land and the subsequent loss of jobs due to this land being destroyed.

There were concerns about the fruit and crops in the area since these would be covered with additional emissions that would disperse across the adjacent fields.

The biodiversity of the area was also a point of concern seeing as this was facing the destruction of more than 550 trees, many of which are protected, and the loss of their contribution to climate change and the ecological niches of which they form part.

Questions were asked about the hydrological system feeding Wied is-Sewda, along with the farmers’ cisterns and the disruption of natural water flow destroyed by the project (which was unbelievably referred to as “flood water”).

Not to mention the concerns about the psychological and physical health of residents in the vicinity and beyond Attard, including those residing in Siġġiewi and Qormi, given the increase in noise pollution and toxic chemicals that the project is sure to cause.

There was also the question about the cultural heritage of the area and the number of historical constructions that would be threatened, some dating back to the times of the Knights of Malta.

Will the towers being built close to the Malta Financial Services Authority, nonchalantly approved by the lack-of-vision, commercially minded PA – definitely be­yond the carrying capacity of the area – be the main beneficiaries of the public land being taken up and the EU funds being spent?

None of the social and environmental elements mentioned above is going to bene­fit from this EU-funded project.

None of the questions were answered by the CEO of Infrastructure Malta. None of the concerns put forward were even addressed. The Environment Im­pact Assessment presented gave a very superficial indication of the project’s negative impacts.

The chairman of the Environment and Resources Authority, as silent as a grave, in a later interview in the press (July 19) was quoted as saying that “he had nothing to add” because none of the comments raised by stakeholders during the meeting changed anything from the ERA’s report.

He called most interventions against the project “emotional”! He also justified the project “on the basis of national interest”.

In yet another section of the press (July 19), Environment Minister José Herrera said that “the authority (ERA) would be vigilant and in a consistent way, [fulfil] its duties to offer the greatest elements of protection to our natural capital, and this with the means and parameters established by law”.

This trophy was first awarded to MEPA in 2015. Despite the fact that the year 2019 is not yet out, this has been awarded to the Planning Authority and the Infrastructure Malta for the environmental devastation that they are involved in.


So long as there are EU funds, then they have to be spent irrespective of the foreseen environmental destruction

The Infrastructure Malta CEO said that this project, according to his economist’s report, will “give back” €16 savings for every €1 spent without even saying how. His economist did not refer to any externalities or the hidden costs that would be borne by the public and the environment. No wonder all the above questions asked were ignored by the CEO.

With regard to the uprooting of trees, he told the press, with hand on heart, “they are using the ERA compensation system of planting trees for those uprooted”, and that the “trees to be planted as compensation will have to be at least three metres tall”. This implies they will all be imported irrespective of the possible dangers of diseases and other invasive species they may bring with them, contrary to EU recommendations as administered by ERA.

Farmers were up in arms when they heard the Infrastructure Malta CEO say that they had been consulted, and could not keep from emphasising that this was a blatant lie.

This is how decisions are taken in Malta – a final late meeting on decision day without the stakeholders being properly consulted, despite this being a requirement whenever EU funds are involved.

All stakeholders and the public have to be involved and consulted so that they are part of the decision rather than just being informed of the decision after it has been taken. Consultation does not mean planting political individuals amidst the public and stakeholders and having them clap every time their minister’s wishes are supported.

The bottleneck at the roundabout beneath Saqqajja Hill will not only remain as it is but will become worse because of the heavier and faster volume of traffic that will be introduced, as advertised by the Ministry’s billboard in Attard.

How on earth can one imagine that the bulk of this traffic has to make its way up Saqqajja Hill where there are only two carriageways? No explanation whatsoever was given by the Infrastructure engineer.

Unbelievably, the EU is dishing out €55 million to the Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure for this particular project, while stakeholders and the public have to depend on voluntary contributions to protect the country from environmental and social destruction.

If there were no EU funds, there would not be such useless environmental destruction taking place. The impression one gets is that, so long as there are EU funds, then they have to be spent irrespective of the foreseen environmental destruction.

ERA, the competent authority recognised by the EU for the protection of the environment, gave its endorsement of this environmental destruction because most of the questions asked, according to the ERA chairman, were “emotional”.

On its website, the ERA says that it is committed “to safeguard the environment for a sustainable quality of life”. There was no confirmation of this whatsoever from the ERA chairman during the meeting, which took place on a very black Thursday for the Maltese environment, with the blessing of ERA.

Can anybody with a real national, social and environmental conscience, and without any political influence, be blamed for losing all confidence in ERA? 

Fjuri indiġeni Maltin 10 – Is-salvja tal-Madonna

August 15, 2018

Soċjetà Filarmonika Nicolò Isouard – Festa Santa Marija – Mosta

l-Erbgħa, 15 ta’ Awissu, 2018

Is-salvja tal-Madonna

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Is-salvja tal-Madonna hija waħda mill-ħafna speċi ta’ fjuri indiġeni Maltin li taqsam din l-art magħna. Iltqajna magħha fl-aħħar kitba li dehret f’din il-pubblikazzjoni s-sena l-oħra meta tkellimna fuq Wied il-Għasel.

Is-salvja tal-Madonna ilha tikber fil-gżejjer Maltin minn qabel il-bniedem rifes fuq dawn il-gżejjer. Għalhekk hija indiġena. Dan ifisser li din il-pjanta tinstab tikbr ukoll f’pajjiżi oħra. Din tinstab tikber ukoll fis-selvaġġ fl-għoljiet madwar il-Mediterran mill-Greċja sal-Iżrael. Tikber ukoll fl-Albanija, fl-Italja, fil-Bożnija Ħerzegovina, fil-Kroazja, fil-Maċedonja, fil-Montenegro, fis-Serbja u fis- Slovenja.

Din l-ispeċi tagħmel parti mill-familja Lamiaceae, familja li hija magħrufa bħala l-familja tal-menta. Din il-familja tħaddan fiha madwar 236 ġeneru li fihom jiġbru aktar minn 7,000 speċi mxerrda mad-dinja. Uħud minn dawn huma mkabbra kemm għall-weraq ifuħ u l-fjur li jiġbed l-għajn. Dan jagħmel il-familja Lamiaceae, waħda importanti għall-bniedem anki minħabba n-numru ta’ ħwawar li juża biex jgħinuh jagħti togħma aħjar lill-ikel, biex jagħmel il-fwieħa, jew fl-użu medicinali. Fost dawn insibu l-ħabaq, in-nagħniegħ, il-klin, is-salvja, il-merqdux, l-origano, l-issopu, is-sagħtar, il-ħabaq, is-sagħtrija u l-lavanda.

Wieħed mill-ġeneru f’din il-familja huwa l-Phlomis, ġeneru li jiġbor fih madwar 100 speċi ta’ pjanti. Dan il-ġeneru huwa magħruf ukoll għall-użu fil-mediċina tradizzjonali. L-ispeċi f’dan il-ġeneru għandhom kimika bioloġika li tintuża għall-kuluri, għall-fwieħa, u għall-mediċina tradizzjonali bħal kontra d-diabete.

Is-salvja tal-Madonna hija waħda mill-ispeċi f’dan il-ġeneru Phlomis. Fil-gżejjer Maltin tikber mal-ġnub tal-widien, qalb il-blat, fix-xagħri, fil-makkja u anki fl-isteppa. Hija tikber minn sena għall-sena, togħla minn metru sa tnejn u tinfetaħ madwar metru u nofs, daqs li tilħaq meta jkollha minn 5 sa 10 snin.

Il-magħseb tagħha huwa twil, muswaf, u jwieżen weraq griżi jagħtu fl-aħdar, bojod minn taħt, u li jinħassu qishom bellus. Il-werqa tkun forma ta’ qalb fejn taqbad mal-magħseb b’għonq twil madwar 4 ċm, u ġejja għall-ponta, twila anki sa 12-il ċm. Jingħad li l-weraq tagħha jintużaw kontra s-sogħla.

Il-fjuri tas-salvja tal-Madonna jkunu madwar 3 ċm twal, u jidhru fi troffof sofor b’leħħa oranġjo, qishom tubi minn 3 sa 9 ċm twal, f’saffi fuq xulxin. Dawn ikunu jfuħu u jidhru bejn Marzu u Ġunju jikbru madwar xulxin f’għaqda ta’ 20, fuq għonq qasir.

Is-salvja tal-Madonna kienet magħrufa minn Wied Inċita, Wied il-Għasel, il-Mellieħa, Misraħ Għonoq, il-Majjiesa, l-Aħrax, il-Buskett, Ħad-Dingli, Ħofret ir-Rizz, Wied Anglu, Binġemma, Wied Ħesri, matul il-Victoria lines, u fil-madwar ta’ Għar lapsi.

ir-ras tal-fjura niexfa biż-żerriegħa ġo fiha

Mhux diffiċli xejn biex tnissel is-salvaja tal-Madonna. Iż-żerriegħa li tinġabar għandha tinżera’ fir-rebbiegħa u, jew titpoġġa għall-ewwel f’serra, jew inkella f’qasrija mogħttija bi ħġieġa. Imma din ma għandhiex titħalla fix-xemx. Meta tnibbet u wieħed ikun jista bis-swaba’ jaqbad l-ewwel weraq li joħorġu miż-żerriegħa, għandha titpoġġa waħda waħda f’qasrija għaliha. Iżda ma għandhiex titħalla fix-xemx għall-ewwel sena. Din tista’ titħawwel fl-art fir-rebbiegħa ta’ wara, f’post fix-xemx imma li ma jżommx l-ilma.

Is-salvja tal-Madonna tista’ titnissel ukoll bil-biċċiet. Għandhom jintagħżlu biċċiet li jkunu sejrin jagħmlu l-injam u dawn jitħawlu bejn Lulju u Awissu.

Hija tiflaħ għan nixfa u ma għandhiex bżonn ta’ ħafna fsied. Tista’ tintuża biex iddawwar xi wesgħat, anki jekk dawn ikunu żgħar, kif ukoll tintuża fil-ġonna. F’pajjiżna hija mhedda u għalhekk hija mniżżla fil-ktieb l-aħmar ta’ Malta.

Hija ħasra li pjanta sabiħa bħas-salvja tal-Madonna hija daqshekk imwarrba. Hija tista’ tintuża anki biex isebbaħ l-ambjent urban tal-gżejjer tagħna, iżda minflok hekk, qed jinġabu pjanti eżotiċi barranin. F’pajjiżi oħra fejn tikber, din tintuża biex issebaħ il-ġonna kif ukoll għall-bukketti tal-fjuri. Hija fjura li tiġbed lejha numru ta’ naħal u friefet.

Ara wkoll:

Fjuri indiġeni Maltin 9 – In-narċis

Fjuri indiġeni Maltin 8 – Il-kaħwiela

Fjuri indiġeni Maltin 7 – Is-sempreviva ta’ Għawdex

Fjuri indiġeni Maltin 6 – Għajn is-serduq

Fjuri indiġeni Maltin 5 – It-tengħud tax-xagħri

Fjuri indiġeni Maltin 4 – It-tengħud tas-siġra

Fjuri indiġeni Maltin 3 – Il-kappara

Fjuri indiġeni Maltin 2 – Il-kromb il-baħar

Fjuri indiġeni Maltin 1 – Il-ħannewija

Il-kappella f’tal-ħlas u t-tqala tal-irħam

July 28, 2014


It-Tnejn, 28 ta’  Lulju 2014

Il-kappella f’tal-ħlas u t-tqala tal-irħam

Alfred E. Baldacchino

Dan l-aħħar ħabib tiegħi ħadni nara l-kappella tal-Madonna mtella’ s-sema f’tal-Ħlas: fuq ir-riħ ta’ Wied is-Sewda, bejn Ħal Qormi u Ħaż-Żebbug. Qatt ma kont żort dawn l-inħawi. Kappella b’artkitettura klassika barokka, bil-karatteristiċi tal-kappellel li wieħed jista’ jsib imferxa madwar il-pajjiż. Aktar tagħrif fuq din il-kappella sibtu fil-ktieb ta’ Joseph Camilleri u Joseph Spiteri Is-Santwarju tal-Ħlas Ħal Qormi ippubblikat fl-2005.

Il-kappella f'Tal- Ħlas

Il-kappella f’Tal- Ħlas

Waħedha, qalb l-għelieqi sa mill-1465 qabel ġiet miżjuda bix-xogħol tal-perit Lorenzo Gafà, illum siekta u għadha maqtugħa mill-bini li qed jibla’ kull biċċa art li jsib quddiemu, dejjem bil-barka ta’ minn suppost jikkontrollah. Għadha hiemda f’misraħ quddiem palazz mibni fi żmien il-Kavallieri. Minn jaf x’raw u x’semgħu bejniethom. Żgur li kull nħar ta’ Ħadd u f’festi kmandati, kienu jinġemgħu raħħala u bdiewa bil-qorq, bis-sidrija u b’lobbja f’rashom, fuq iz-zuntier jew fil-loġġa mgħammra bil-bankijiet u l-imwejjed tal-ġebel, kollha jaqsmu l-ferħ u l-imrar ta’ matul il-ġimgħa li tkun għaddiet, waqt li jsaħħu r-rabta bejniethom f’dik il-laqgħa soċjali.

Iz-zuntier bil-loġġia biswit

Iz-zuntier bil-loġġia biswit

Ħassejtni miblugħ minn dawk iż-żminijiet mgħoddija, fejn it-tbatija fiżika kienet kbira, imma xejn anqas kienet ir-rabta man-natura. Bdejt bħal nisma’ l-prezzijiet li ġab id-dugħ ta’ rtajjel u qnatar li l-bdiewa ħadu l-pitkali bil-karettun: biċċa, nofs biċċa, skut, disgħa rbajja, jew salib. Kemm sejra ġġib il-bħajra bikrija, il-frott irqiq u l-patata. Ħassejtni nisma’ raħħal b’nofs tbissima, wiċċu jixgħel, jistqarr kif l-erħa tal-ewwel waslet biex tferrgħa, waqt li kien sejjer jiġi bżonn ta’ barri tar-razza biex jgħammarlu oħra. Tant kont mitluf fl-ħsibijiet ta’ dawk iż-żminijiet storiċi jidwu madwar il-ħitan taz-zuntier, li sieħbi kellu jiġbidni minn spalti meta ma weġibtux mill-ewwel.

Ġawhriet bħal din il-kappella għandna ħafna u hija ħasra li wħud minnhom huma kważi mitluqa. Għalhekk kien ħsieb tajjeb u għaqli tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Ħal Qormi li bil-għajnuna ta’ €247,000 mill-UE, nieda proġett tar- restawr tal-mgħodija storika li tiġbor fiha l-misraħ tal-kappella tal-Ħlas.

Tagħrif mogħti mill-Kunsill ta' Ħal Qormi

Tagħrif mogħti mill-Kunsill ta’ Ħal Qormi

Sfortunatament meta wieħed jara x-xogħol ma jistax’ jgħid li dan kollu jinfilsa b’mod naturali kif ukoll storiku mal-ambjent ta’ dak il-misraħ u l-Kappella tal-Ħlas.

Is-siġar li jħaddnu l-misraħ 'miżbura' bil-ħsieb tal-bankijiet

Is-siġar li jħaddnu l-misraħ  fi ħwat tal-irħam, ‘miżbura’ biex jaqdu l-bankijiet


L-akbar opra tixher fir-restawr ta’dan il-misraħ huma żewġt iħwat kbar madwar dawn iż-żewġ siġriet li b’intellilġenza endemika Maltija, inksew b’tip ta’ irħam! Jista’ wieħed jimmagina misraħ tal-kappella ta’ qabel l-1465 mibnija bil-ġebla Maltija f’nofs ir-raba’, jiġi restawrat b’żewġt iħwat madwar żewġ sigriet, miksija bl-irħam?

Kif qalli l-ħabib tiegħi meta ġibed l-attenzjoni lil xi ħadd mill-kunsill qalulu li dawn il-ħwat ġew aħjar minn kif riedet il-MEPA. Din riedet li l-konki oriġinali tas-siġar jiddawru bil-ferrobattuto, jaqblu mal-kanċel taz-zuntier. Numri oħra ta’ kondizzjonijiet kienu dwar il-ħarsien tal-ħitan tas-sejjiegħ. Possibli li l-MEPA waslet fi stat li tagħmel dak li jgħidulha u mhux dak li tordna hi? Qaluli wkoll li l-MEPA qed tistudja t-tqala ta’ dan l-irħam u ksur ieħor tal-kundizzjonijiet fil-permess.

Is-siġar li jħaddnu l-misraħ 'miżbura' bil-ħsieb tal-bankijiet

Irħama tat-tnedija tal-proġett

Fil-ġenb tal-kappella f’tal-Ħlas isseraħ fuq irħama wieqfa, tabella tagħti tgħarif dwar l-għajnuna mill-UE u t-tnedija tal-proġett mill-Prim Ministru fil-20 ta’ Mejju fl-2014. Sadanittant il-MEPA għadha qed tistudja x-xogħol li sar kontra l-kundizzjonijet tagħha. U naħseb ukoll li min fassal ix-xogħol ukoll mar jiżżi ħajr ’il-madonna tal-ħlas.

Minkejja l-kondizzjonijiet mill-MEPA dwar il-ħarsien tal-ħitan tas-sejjiegħ, siment u irħam mormija fuq wieħedmill-ħitan.

Minkejja l-kondizzjonijiet mill-MEPA dwar il-ħarsien tal-ħitan tas-sejjiegħ, siment u irħam mormija fuq wieħed mill-ħitan.


tagħrif fuq xi kliem

1. dugħ – mezzez mimlijin frott u ħaxix li l-bdiewa jieħdu l-pitkali.
2. biċċa – erba’ xelini u żewġ soldi (4s.2d.) jew 50 sold tal-flus qodma. Illum isarfu €0.48
3. nofs biċċa – żewġ xelini u sold (2s.1d.) jew 25 sold tal-flus qodma illum €0.24
4. skut – xelin u tmin soldi (1s 8d) jew għoxrin sold, illum €0.192
5. Disgħa rbajja’ – xelin u tlett soldi jew 15-il sold illum €0.144
6. salib – l-istess bħal skut
7. bħajra – bettieħ
8. erħa tal-ewwel – baqra żgħira ta’ aktar minn sena li diġà ferrgħet darba
9. erħa – baqra żgħira li għadha qatt ma kienet ħobla