Environment is being used as ‘political bait’ by parties
Political parties should be transparent about their plans for the environment, Din l-Art Ħelwa said yesterday, as it urged the next government to retain existing building boundaries.
“Many wondrous promises are being pulled of political pockets as is always the case during election time, when the environment is used as political bait but the main parties should be clearer on their intentions,” DLĦ president Simone Mizzi said.
Speaking at the environmental NGO’s annual general meeting, Ms Mizzi pushed politicians to clearly state their environmental credentials and not crumble when faced with threats.
“In the face of vote blackmail there is insufficient political will to put an end to lawlessness and not enough courage to prevent commercial exploitation of our natural and historic assets,” she said.
Ta’ Ċenċ and Ħondoq ir-Rummien in Gozo as well as Manoel Island and other spots were “waiting like lambs going to the slaughter”. There had to be a united political front to act with clout on major issues that remained unsolved, she said.
Ms Mizzi hit out at the nation’s acts of folly that destroyed the island’s heritage over the years, from breaching the Valletta bastions to accommodate the Excelsior Hotel to the “piecemeal demolition” of the Sliema front.
“Political indolence and laissez-faire policies have allowed public land to be stolen by lawless citizens at Armier and elsewhere,” she said.
“Is this a land where lawlessness pays? Yes it seems, because in the face of the loss of a single vote, political maturity ends and favour lies with the lawless. Amnesties for construction misdemeanours engender further lawlessness.
“An ominous silence reigns on the mega projects, on illegal hunting and as before every election, undefined pledges are made to solve the illegal grabbing of land. We want environmental credentials to be pronounced with transparency.”
It appreciated that good cultural conscience had emerged from such mistakes. A structure plan was put in place and the Cultural Heritage Act empowered NGOs like DLĦ to be entrusted with heritage sites under guardianship deeds. After saving 37 national monuments, and with 17 in its care, DLĦ continued to save what it could.
But the nation’s environmental awareness had not yet matured enough and concerns remained.