Only the PN can truly stand up for the environment | Robert Cutajar

No matter which trump card related to the environment the government decides to use in the coming general election, it will not erase the memory of the complete disaster we have been experiencing in the last years

We are still not informed about how the Sant Antnin Plant caught fire and who was responsible. Why is the  government is keeping these reports closely guarded?
We are still not informed about how the Sant Antnin Plant caught fire and who was responsible. Why is the government is keeping these reports closely guarded?

The environment is one of those sectors in which the Labour government has failed miserably. Over the past 8 years, the government did not manage to strike a sustainable balance between the environment and the required planning and development. Lack of decisions or completely wrong ones resulted in a complete environmental fiasco in what regard both the irreparable damage caused and the inability to reach the targets set by the same government.

Unfortunately, the main offenders are various government entities, funded from the public coffers, which blatantly disregard the environment. For instance, for both Infrastructure Malta and Ambjent Malta, the butchering of trees is the order of the day. This is just one example of how irresponsible the Labour government is towards the environment. The government is not only lacking in enforcement but does not care to follow the rules related to the environment.

Poor waste management slammed by the Auditor General

The latest episode in a series of environmental failures was highlighted by the Auditor General (NAO) in a report which outlined what the government, in conjunction with the Wasteserv and ERA administrations, has been trying to hide throughout these last years.

This report shows that the Nationalist Opposition was right and confirmed what the EU said in a warning report issued to Malta about waste management in 2018. Unfortunately, the Maltese population must fork out the money to pay for the crass incompetence of this government.

The NAO report confirms that while the Maltese people are doing their share when it comes to waste separation, the Labour Government is not capable to fulfil its obligations and thus our country is not managing to reach both national and European targets related waste management particularly management and separation of plastic waste. This means that we are in breach of the EU directives related to waste management. Moreover, how can the Labour government convince us that the plans for 2021-2030 are realistic when in the period 2014 -2020 it was not capable of reaching those targets set by the same government. While the Labour government is using public funds to boast of the investment of half a billion euros in the ‘Long term waste management plan 2021-2030’, we would certainly be more appreciative should the government explain in detail the various competences and resources it has to tackle all the waste management challenges we will be facing in the coming 10 years. This plan contains several anomalies and unrealistic time frames, of which the Minister was made aware.

The mystery behind arson incidents at Sant Antnin Plant and other facilities

Another negative legacy which this government will be remembered for is related to the  burning of three waste management facilities over the last seven years. We are still not informed about how the Sant Antnin Plant caught fire and who was responsible. Why is the  government is keeping these reports closely guarded?

The mentioned NAO report indicated another lie which the Labour government has been repeating for years – that the country was still carrying out recycling of waste even though Sant’ Antnin Plant was not functioning. The NAO report shows otherwise. One must not forget that this government chose to literally waste millions euro received from the EU for the setting up of the plant.

Choosing the Maghtab location – a politically vitiated decision

It is now clearer than ever, that decision to choose Magħtab to build the incinerator, was a politically vitiated one. The government has pronounced itself about the choice of this location before the studies about the area were concluded. Such actions go against EU directives too.

Also in this case, the Nationalist Opposition is asking the government to publish all those studies related to the chosen site. What is hindering the government from publishing the recommendations of the experts together with the Strategic Environmental Assessment as per the EU directives and then allow for public scrutiny?

The haphazard choice of this site shows that the Labour government is not ready to consider the interests of the farmers and residents of the area. It is also very reluctant to consider a petition which was signed by thousands of people and which I have presented in Parliament on behalf of the residents and farmers of the area. As the Opposition, we cannot renounce our obligation to protect and support those who are practically forgotten by this government.

Natura 2000 sites for the enjoyment of the Maltese families

It is high time that the Labour Government stops talking and starts acting in what regard the access to protected areas and heritage trails. The government is duty bound to ensure a safe access to these zones such as the Natura 2000 sites and market them to promote the niche of environment tourism. The Nationalist Opposition will remain consistent in its constant request for all these sites to be accessible always unlike the latest episode related to lack of access to Fomm ir Riħ.

This incident showed how the government is panicking, realising that the Maltese citizens cannot take this lack of enforcement and poor government commitment any longer. It seems that the government has just woken up from deep sleep and is reiterating what the Nationalist Opposition has been saying about the need for more open recreational spaces for our families to enjoy. The government has allowed the taking away of many parcels of public land.

No matter which trump card related to the environment the government decides to use in the coming general election, it will not erase the memory of the complete disaster we have been experiencing in the last years. The Maltese population and the environmental NGOs will not forget the irresponsible way the Labour government has treated the environment.

Following my recent appointment of shadow minister for the environment and climate change by Dr Bernard Grech, I will continue criticising the government whenever it is necessary but also come up with suggestions to improve the environment we live in for the common good of present and future generations.

For the Nationalist opposition the environment is one of the main pillars on which our future society should be based.

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