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People have the power

When, some 15 years ago, the public coastline around Manoel Island was blocked, there was a surprising lack of outcry, save from the NGOs' part.

Maybe we were dazzled by the development that precipitated the closure. Or maybe we actually fell for the usual political promises that hey, we'd all stand to benefit from the entire thing.

Fast forward to today and... guess what - the public coastline around Manoel Island remained closed! The development is up and running, but none of the embellishments to the public areas that were initially promised were initiated, much less concluded.

And, to heap more insult, the public areas remained anything but. The development, far from being of benefit to the local community in terms of regeneration and financial opportunities, had only succeeded in keeping the community out. Which, let's face it, was possibly the whole idea all along.

From where I - and many others - are standing, the whole thing smacked of "hey, let's offer the one per cent their very own private lido at no extra cost to us. No-one will notice." Prove me wrong, anyone?

Until this landmark weekend, when Kamp Emergenza Ambjent got rightly fed up of the entire island being taken for a ride and took matters into its own hands. Thank you Kamp Emergenza Ambjent.

Malta was in sore need of someone to remind us where voters keep their collective testicles. Cue a swimming and camping party on location. It was like revisiting my childhood, when it was one of my - and many other families' - favourite swimming spots.

Because this is a big part of the tragedy. Those of a younger generation than myself will have no idea of the amazeballness that is Manoel Island as a location for anything, really - swimming, picnicking, walking, exploring, camping. So much so it deserves having a descriptor created just for it - amazeballness.

Let's hope that Kamp Emergenza Ambjent's statement will not go wasted and the Manoel Island coastline is returned permanently to its rightful owners. Us. But let's also hope that the rightful owners will be properly appreciative of it.

And, before the cries of "you can't halt progress" kick off, allow me to point out some home truths that politicians and developers conveniently ignore when using sophistry to justify decisions that will only be applauded by the one per cent

Disgustingly, while there yesterday I already spotted two cigarette butts on the shore. Please, let's not turn it into another unofficial dump and make everyone regret the decision to take back access, can we?

And, before the cries of "you can't halt progress" kick off, allow me to point out some home truths that politicians and developers conveniently ignore when using sophistry to justify decisions that will only be applauded by the one per cent.

Yes, landscape changes are part of the healthy running of any given country.

And yes, a certain amount of luxury development is also necessary.

But no, this does not mean that riding roughshod over public land is justified.

And no, this doesn't mean there are no limits as to what government can grant developers "in the name of progress".

Lastly, no, those of us who oppose ruining a tiny island's natural beauty with excessive development do not want to regress back to the days when we all lived in a cave and spent our free time hugging trees. There are pretty much no trees to hug, anyway.

We just want what is ours by right.

 

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