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NGOs hold environment protest

Eight environment NGOs held a noisy protest n Valletta this morning over a lack of environmental law enforcement.

The protest, down Republic Street, attracted a crowd of several hundred who carried placards and streamers protesting over a range of environmental issues including building outside development areas, air quality, the freeport extension in Birzebbuga, the Opera House project, development in Qala and Bahrija and, illegal hunting.

The rally was organised by the Ramblers, FAA, Friends of the Earth, BirdLife Malta, Nature Trust, Graffitti, Greenhouse and the Malta Organic and Agricultural Movement.

Addresses were held in pouring rain by Lino Bugeja and Alex Vella representing the Ramblers and Astrid Vella representing FAA.

Mr Vella called for the Mepa reform to include more effective measures for the protection of the environment. He insisted that the law should be applied equally to everyone, including the 'big fish'. Far too many abuses were taking place and development permits were being issued with little regard for the environment.

Ms Vella said the governemnt should heed the people's opposition to the roofless theatre at the Opera House site. She spoke briefly on various threats to the environment, including rampant development, and said a serious threat, also to public health, was air pollution. Furthermore, too little was being done to stop the theft of groundwater.

Lino Bugeja said Malta needed an 'absolute reform' to stop the tragedy of the environment. Malta could not afford to lose more of its countryside and coastal zones.

Tolga Temuge, representing BirdLife, said the government should not be strong with the weak and weak with the strong.

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