NGOs condemn Maghtab extension, say sacrifice of arable land is 'obscene'

Fifteen NGOs say that flagship projects should be planned in a way to minimise, not encourage, the take-up of agricultural land and similar resources

File photo
File photo

Malta Youth in Agriculture Foundation, Ghaqda Bdiewa Attivi, Moviment Graffitti and several NGOs have condemned the proposed expropriation of agricultural and natural land in Maghtab to facilitate the construction of waste management facilities.

Around two hundred tumuli of arable land will be expropriated to make room for the infrastructure required. 

"The gradual degradation of our countryside stems from the policy of encroaching on agricultural land without any serious acknowledgement of the very limited open, green spaces left in Malta – which also serve the vital purpose of bringing food on our tables," an NGO statement read on Thursday, describing such a move as "obscene."

The NGOs said that natural countryside in Malta is pockmarked with such developments that are, on a daily basis, becoming more numerous. The consequences of the loss, they said, of natural and agricultural land are severe – besides the direct impact on health and way of life (especially in terms of respiratory diseases due to pollution), there is also the concern of potential shortages and complete dependence on the costly importation of food.

"Instead of fostering a culture of nurturing the land and tilling it, one finds a culture of exploitation and lack of accountability. State entities such as Wasteserv seem to have no issues with taking up land and drafting plans without as much as a consultation."

The NGOs said that watchdog entities who recommend changes during consultations are often dismissed or unacknowledged altogether. 

They said that the area around the Maghtab landfill is a known and documented area of archaeological significance which includes the Ta' Hammut dolmens as well as megalithic remains. A large quarry was also present abutting the landfill some years previously. For this reason alone, the statement read, the area merited conservation.

"We believe that, besides reconsidering our waste strategy and culture, projects such as this should be planned in a way to minimise, not encourage, the take-up of further agricultural land and similar resources," the NGOs said, adding that long-term problems require long-term solutions.

Fifteen NGOs signed the statement: Bicycle Advocacy Group, Birdlife Malta, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth (Malta), Futur Ambjent Wieħed, Għaqda Bdiewa Attivi, Għaqda Siġar Maltin, Green House, Isles of the Left, Malta Youth in Agriculture Foundation, Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust, The Archaeological Society Malta, The Ramblers' Association, and Żminijietna - Voice of the Left.