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PL, PN ignore environmentalists’ challenge

Lobby wants to present its priorities

Both parties had meetings with the hunting lobby.

Both parties had meetings with the hunting lobby.

The leaders of both main political parties have so far ignored a “credibility challenge” from a coalition of 23 eNGOs, Times of Malta has learnt.

The Great Environment Credibility Challenge, being organised by conservationists and lobbyists to see which parties will commit to prioritising the environment, is being held on Monday.

Organisers of the event said, however, they were still unsure whether the party leaders would be attending despite chasing them for a reply.

“I find this behaviour extremely worrying, and I hope it’s not indicative of how the leaders plan on dealing with the environment,” said one of the organisers, marine biologist Alan Deidun.

The event will see the environmentalist lobby present leaders with a list of priorities in a kind of electoral wish list.

Dr Deidun said that the parties had been contacted well in advance but had first declined to attend without knowing what these group's proposals were well in advance.

It turned out, however, that even after they had been provided, the leaders would not commit.

If they can’t clear a few minutes for them, then it doesn’t bode well for the environment

“They said they have a busy schedule, but this is a group made up of all the environment NGOs on the island. If they can’t clear up a few minutes for them, then it doesn’t bode well for the environment,” Dr Deidun said.

Lawyer and green campaigner Claire Bonello is among the event organisers. She said the leaders’ reluctance to commit was especially worrying after news that both parties had held meetings with the hunting lobby.

Times of Malta reported on Wednesday that the hunting lobby had held meetings with the Nationalist Party leadership and it would be holding similar meetings with the Labour Party to discuss its electoral wish list.

The 15,000-member lobby is asking for a future government’s help to negotiate the extension of the contentious trapping season with the European Commission.

It is also calling for legal reforms that would make it harder for hunters to face another referendum to outlaw their hobby. Malta’s hunters won a vote to retain the practice in 2015.

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