Letters: 12th May 2014

Excessively noisy nights (and days) in Senglea

As has already been pointed out by AD chairman Arnold Cassola (‘AD says residents need protection’, Times of Malta, 12 April 2014) and Caroline Said Lawrence of the Friends of Cottonera Forum (‘Hazardous industrial work in Cottonera’, Times of Malta, 27 April 2014), residents of the Three Cities and environs have been plagued around the clock by excessive noise pollution resulting from the oil rig repair works in French Creek.
As residents of Senglea’s Bastion Street, we live right at the doorstep of the dockyard and suffer from its accompanying noise night and day. Measurements of continuous noise levels in the evening and at night prove that the noise is indeed excessive: readings between 00:30 and 01:00 a.m. show an average 65 dB(A) in our bedroom balcony and 60 dB(A) from the bed.
The WHO (World Health Organization) Europe Guidelines for Community Noise (1999) recommend sound levels no higher than 30 dB(A) in bedrooms to ensure a good night’s sleep. The WHO Night Noise Guidelines for Europe (2009) further recommend a target of 40 dB(A) as a maximum for outside night noise, “to protect the public, including the most vulnerable groups such as children, the chronically ill and the elderly”.
The situation in Senglea and surroundings is clearly far from meeting the target levels recommended by the WHO. How can the government allow, and even encourage, such noisy and dirty industrial activity so close to residential areas, when there is clear scientific evidence of the negative impact on the health and well-being of the local residents?

Suzanne Maas and Christian Debono, Senglea

An open letter to Lino Farrugia

In the recent letter to your members, you accuse those who campaigned against spring hunting as telling outright lies, slandering, being deceitful, insulting and expressing hatred. Furthermore, you accuse the ‘eco-terrorists’ of never thinking twice about tarnishing Malta’s image deceitfully and without remorse.
You then go on to thank your members for observing the regulations imposed by the government.
I am a member of the team that made Chris Packham’s video blogs. I would like you to clarify your sweeping accusations. Without proof and specific examples, your open letter is more slanderous and full of lies than any of our videos.
For instance, what do you mean by the term ‘eco-terrorist’? According to Wikipedia, ‘Eco-terrorism’ is defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as ‘the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against people or property by an environmentally oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons’.
If that is the definition you meant, what acts are you referring to? I know that we did not commit or threaten any violent act of a criminal nature, so for you to accuse us of such is slander.  On the other hand we did refer to several violent acts carried out against people and property, namely the attacks on Ray Vella, by hunters.  Those attacks really happened though so that is not slander.
We specifically set out not to tarnish Malta’s image. Indeed we made a point in several of the videos of saying what a beautiful island Malta is and how hospitable the people are. We encouraged people to come to Malta. Tarnishing the image of Malta’s hunters is not the same as tarnishing the image of Malta.  
Despite the FKNK’s attempts to have Mr Packham arrested, it seems the police decided we hadn’t broken the law. The same cannot be said for all the hunters. Clearly we do not know if the hunters who shot the protected birds featured in our films are members of the FKNK or not; we certainly never claimed that they were. But given the news about the bird cemetery found in Mizieb, the woods your members were so keen to have us thrown out of, you’ll have to forgive us if we don’t join you in congratulating your members on observing the regulations.

Jez Toogood, Bristol, UK

Misleading propaganda on hunting

I feel compelled to write to you concerning the visit to Malta by Chris Packham and the misleading propaganda portrayed in his YouTube series ‘Massacre on Migration’.
For those not conversant with hunting in Malta, the short spring hunting season, which is legal under Maltese and EU law, consists of 19 half days and permits the shooting of a maximum of 11,000 turtle doves and 5,000 quail (this season).
This is a miniscule quota when compared to the estimated 3 million quail and 2-3 million turtledoves shot every year in the remaining EU countries. It can therefore be concluded that the shooting of these species on Malta has an insignificant effect on the overall European population.
Furthermore Mr Packham has implied that the decline in the UK turtledove population can be partly blamed upon the shooting of turtledoves on Malta. This is not the case.
Scientific research (Browne and Aebischer) carried out here in the UK has concluded that the decline in the UK turtle dove population is almost entirely due to changes in farming practices.
Mr Packham has been quoted in the press as stating that in Malta “millions” of protected birds are blasted out of the sky every spring hunting season. This is downright misleading and factually incorrect. Mr Packham provides no evidence whatsoever to back up his spurious claims.
During this spring hunting season, I happened to be in Malta and accepted an invitation from a Maltese hunting friend to accompany him while hunting. On many mornings I observed numerous birds including golden orioles, bee-eaters, various kinds of birds of prey and many other species, some of which I recognised and some I did not recognise, passing over the area.
In this area there were many hunters and not one shot rang out. In fact very few shots were taken as the numbers of quarry species passing were extremely few. No wildlife crime whatsoever was committed, the law being adhered to at all times. I can only state that in my experience, Maltese hunters are law abiding.

Philip Sword, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Papal hypocrisy

A few weeks ago, a local newspaper reported “Pope Francis, in his Easter address before a large crowd, yesterday denounced ‘the immense wastefulness’ in the world while many go hungry.”
In its interview, in the same issue, with economist Joseph F.X. Zahra, who was appointed by Pope Francis to oversee reforms of the Vatican’s “scandal-plagued accounts”, the newspaper reported that “the Holy See’s problems, which have been acknowledged in Church circles, were revealed publicly last year through the leaks of papal correspondence by then Pope Benedict’s butler. The documents exposed the squabbles among Vatican bureaucrats, allegations of corruption in the awarding of contracts, and mammoth fiscal waste.”
In view of these scandals, it’s hypocritical of Pope Francis to denounce others for their wastefulness when there was “mammoth fiscal waste” at the Vatican itself “while many went hungry.”

John Guillaumier, St Julian’s