[WATCH] Spazji Miftuħa coalition meets PM over Miżieb and Aħrax woodlands

Miżieb and Aħrax Survey: vast majority opposes FKNK takeover of woodlands • 95% of respondents rue lack of transparency in negotiations, Spazji Miftuħa online survey shows 

Open spaces coalition Spazji Miftuha meets Robert Abela

Prime Minister Robert Abela has met with Spazji Miftuħa, a coalition of 60 NGOs and local groups dedicated to the preservation of public spaces in Malta, to discuss the future of l-Aħrax and Miżieb.

Over 95% of the respondents in a survey launched by Spazji Miftuħa have stated they disagree or strongly disagree with the restriction of access on the contested woodlands of l-Aħrax and il-Miżieb, the coalition stated.

The key findings of this survey are that 90% disagree with the hunting lobby being granted management of these sites.

The agreement with the FKNK about the areas was “like a secret agreement,” BirdLife CEO Mark Sultana told the press after the meeting, welcoming the encounter with Abela as something positive.

The  coalition was concerned about the transparency of the deal and the public access to the territory which is 5 times the size of Buskett. “We don’t have a good record on public land,” Sultana said.

Today they learned that the FKNK had guaranteed that there would be public access all year long, said lawyer Claire Bonello. “We need to ensure that there are enforceable provisions in the agreement to safeguard this access.”

The biggest problem is enforcement, but the activists said the Prime Minister is now promising to invest in this area. “The proof is in the pudding. There is still time for the Cabinet to change its mind about this agreement, but there are our proposals about how to manage the area,” Sultana said.

“As NGOs we’ve spoken to many politicians and prime ministers…I want to be more confident but we are in a country where the natural environment never given importance but we will continue with this campaign and encourage the public to sign the petition and make pressure to have these places remain the property of the people of Malta and Gozo.”

The Spazji Miftuħa survey, with over 680 respondents taking part, is currently hosted on spazjimiftuha.org. 

Over 95% disagrees with restricting access to Aħrax and Miżieb, and that the proposal to hand over Aħrax and Miżieb to the FKNK is not transparent. 99% of the respondents think the public deserves more access to more open spaces 

“The results of this survey are clear for all to see. The general public is opposed to government giving two massive public open spaces to an interest group that represents only its own members,” said a spokesperson for the coalition.

“In addition to over 15,500 signatures against this secretive deal, we can now say that our arguments are backed up by numbers. Tellingly, almost all respondents (99%) are in favour of more open public spaces being made accessible to the population, not the other way round.” 

In less than a month since its launch, Spazji Miftuħa has also received the backing of 60 groups and organisations endorsing the coalition and its demands. 
The petition, survey and endorsement form can be found on www.spazjimiftuha.org. Spazji Miftuħa’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/spazjimiftuha/
Spazji Miftuħa is endorsed by: Moviment Graffitti, Din l-Art Helwa, Friends of the Earth Malta, Nature Trust Malta, BirdLife Malta, ORCA Malta, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, The Archeological Society of Malta, Ramblers Association, Isles of the Left, Extinction Rebellion Malta, Għaqda Siġar Maltin, Bicycle Advocacy Group, Futur Ambjent Wieħed, Kamra tal-Periti, Noise Abatement Society of Malta, BICREF, Franciscan Friars (OFM) Malta, Kunsill Studenti Universitarji (KSU), Grow 10 Trees, Alleanza Kontra l-Faqar, Azzjoni: Tuna Artna Lura, Releaf, Royal Commonwealth Society: Malta Branch, Kunzill Nazzjonali Żgħażagħ (KNŻ), EASA Malta, Volt Malta, Bird Eye View Malta, Transparency Malta, The Malta Dementia Society, Merill Rural Network, Ulster Wildlife, International Spring Orchestra Festival, The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, Malta Street Sport Association, Aditus Foundation, Malta Youth in Agriculture Foundation (MAYA), The Association for Consumer Rights (ACR), Malta Regional Development and Dialogue Foundation (MRDDF), No to Plastic Malta, Clean & Green, Kopin, Association for Justice, Equality & Peace (AJEP), Kamp Emergenza Ambjent (KEA), Time for Change, Malta Producers Association, Wirt iż-Żejtun, Why Not?, Fish for tomorrow, International Tree Foundation, MaltaToday, The Critical Institute, YMCA, YWCA, Kummissjoni Ġustizzja u Paċi, Shooting Malta, Malta Creative Collective, Young Progressive Beings, Repubblika, Inizjamed.