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Saving the Maltese character

Wied Speranza. Photos: Mary Attard

Wied Speranza. Photos: Mary Attard

Wied Qirda.Wied Qirda.

May in Malta offers bright, sunny, warm, long days without the stifling heat of summer. Ramblers make the most of it knowing full well that long-range walking, as a pleasant and healthy pastime, will soon give way to a refreshing dip.

The countryside will be changing hues as the greenery is soon taken over by parched auburn, and by outcrops of barren rock and rubble walls. So the ramblers’ walks in May concentrate on valleys, mainly those abutting the Victoria Lines, where foliage still retains its verdant tinge and tree cover relieves in its shade.

Ramblers take much delight in the wondrous changing colours of nature across the seasons, but are sadly dismayed when nature is disfigured by sham spurious structures that are endlessly cropping up, irreversibly ruining the characteristic Maltese countryside. The blame rests with the laxity of the Planning Authority (PA), itself a misnomer of the first grade – it seriously lacks clear and determined planning; and it fails miserably in its authority to enforce policies and regulations.

We are sadly witnessing a complete failure of our rural and urban conservation

Despite the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development, central planning is non-existent, on both a national and local level, and down to every individual development scheme. But obviously, a determined central plan would not allow space for favours.

BaħrijaBaħrija

So the planning Malta gets is haphazard and sketchy, clumsy and unmethodical. Traditional streetscapes are smudged with discordant elevations, if not disappearing completely. Blank walls have become a mainstay feature of the landscape... in short, the aestethic disaster destroying our culture is evident everywhere.

The PA fails miserably in enforcing policies and regulations on one and all. What is worse, it justifies illegalities by sanctioning against the payment of a fee – a planning gain, environmental contribution – call it what you will. As if a monetary charge can ever justify a wrongdoing of a permanent nature. As if monetary gains will solve our parking (and pollution) problems. As if our countryside will ever be regained.

Policies being slyly created by the powers-that-be at the PA have loopholes greater than a hanger’s noose. As a consequence we are sadly witnessing a complete failure of our rural and urban conservation, a complete collapse of the national character.

Wied SperanzaWied Speranza

May walks

Sunday, May 6: The Baħrija valleys and cliffs will feature on this moderate four-hour ramble, which starts at 9am from near the playground in Baħrija square.

Wednesday, May 9: This walk is easy with some inclines. It will follow the Victoria Lines from Tarġa Gap through to Binġemma, starting at 4pm near the Lidl outlet in Mosta.

Sunday, May 13: This walk is hard, trailing the western part of the Victoria Lines path, through Fomm ir-Riħ, Kunċizzjoni and Binġemma, starting from Mġarr parish square at 8.30am.

Wednesday, May 16: This is an easy walk starting at 4pm from the Park & Ride in Qormi. The route follows the three valleys of Wied iċ-Ċawsli, Wied Ħanżir and Wied Qirda.

Sunday, May 20: This is more of a relaxed, guided visit to the University botanical collection at Argotti Gardens, starting near Sarria church, Floriana, at 9am.

Sunday, May 27: It is a moderate, four-hour walk starting at Mosta square at 9am. It will trail the valley of Wied il-Għasel to Burmarrad and Bidnija, viewing four chapels en route.

For further information, call 9949 7080 or 7733 2433.

www.ramblersmalta.org
www.facebook.com/ramblersmalta

Alex Vella is executive president of the Malta Ramblers’ Association.

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