NGOs launch coalition in defence of open spaces and to oppose Miżieb takeover

Launch of Coalition in Defence of Open Spaces: Spazji Miftuħa aims to preserve access to public open spaces

A coalition of groups has been formed in response to a lobby’s sustained pressure on the open spaces of l-Aħrax and Miżieb. Spażji Miftuħa (“Open Spaces”) is made up of NGOs and local groups dedicated to the preservation of public spaces in Malta, also tackling issues related to the conservation of ecological features, the management of such sites and transparency.

Spazji Miftuħa was formed in response to a proposal by government to restrict access to the two woodland areas of l-Aħrax and il-Miżieb to a private lobby.

Spazji Miftuħa is calling for other NGOs as well as formal and informal groups to register their endorsement. The coalition is also asking the general public to give its opinions about the proposed agreement on Aħrax and Miżieb by signing a petition and filling in a brief survey. In just a few days the petition has gained over 7,600 signatures. The petition, survey and endorsement form can be found on www.spazjimiftuha.org. Spazji Miftuħa’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/spazjimiftuha/.

The organisations, representing different spheres and public interests, especially those in the preservation of natural environment, are strongly in opposition to the:

●        limitations on the appropriate public access to places of natural amenity, particularly to suit a small part of a minority group;

●        continuation of this way of governing public assets;

●        way in which Cabinet treats public assets as its own.

Spazji Miftuħa has also shown its dismay at the lack of a reply from the Prime Minister, whom they have asked for a meeting to discuss the Aħrax and Miżieb proposal. Noting that the Environment Minister has acknowledged the request, the group is disappointed that the PM has not found time to address the NGOs’ and indeed the general public’s concerns. “Closing off two popular spots for nine months would mean the end of any sort of activity in the areas except for hunting. There will be no camping, no picnics, no walks in these areas if the agreement goes ahead. This issue will affect all Maltese citizens, not merely our own members.”

In response to a statement issued by a lobby last week, the NGOs forming part of Spazji Miftuħa have no objection to the publication of all agreements related to the management of their sites.

“We believe in the principle of transparency,” said a spokesperson for the coalition. “There should never be the need to file any freedom of information requests to obtain this information, which should always be immediately available in the public domain, without any secrecy whatsoever.”

The groups forming part of Spazji Miftuħa include:

  1. Archaeological Society of Malta
  2. BICREF
  3. Bicycle Advocacy Group
  4. BirdLife Malta
  5. Din L-Art Ħelwa
  6. Extinction Rebellion Malta
  7. Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar
  8. Franciscan Friars (OFM) Malta
  9. Friends of the Earth Malta
  10. Futur Ambjent Wieħed
  11. Għaqda Siġar Maltin
  12. Isles of the Left
  13. Kamra tal-Periti
  14. Kunsill Studenti Universitarji (KSU)
  15. Moviment Graffitti
  16. Nature Trust Malta
  17. NASoM (Noise Abatement Society Malta)
  18. Outdoor Recreation and Camping Association Malta
  19. Ramblers Association Malta
  20. The Grow 10 Trees Project

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