Motorsport lobby hits back at Church racetrack criticism

Forget the racetrack, the government should plant more trees, the Church's environment commission has declared, raising the ire of the Malta Motorsport Federation which insisted that a racetrack is 'needed and necessary'

The Church's environment commission wants to see more trees planted rather than have a racetrack built at Ta' Qali
The Church's environment commission wants to see more trees planted rather than have a racetrack built at Ta' Qali

The Malta Motorsport Federation has come out against the Church’s Environment Commission’s recommendations for tree-planting to replace any prospect of a new racetrack.

The federation argued that a racetrack in Malta “is needed and necessary in our country both for sport and as a facility that can be used by driving instructors.”

The MMF said a racetrack would bring about greater educational awareness on driving, an imperative move considering the number of fatalities on the road.

The Ta’ Qali racetrack’s importance was evident from the fact that both political parties endorsed the move in their electoral manifesto, the federation insisted.

The Church’s Environment Commission presented suggestions to the government on the environment earlier this week, insisting that plans for a racetrack at Ta’ Qali should be given up in favour of “planting more trees”.

“It is not enough to sugar-coat the racetrack project with ‘educational’ aspects,” said the Commission. “This is a site which has a great potential to have more trees planted on it, thus upgrading it as a prime recreational area for all Maltese families”.

Tree-planting propositions should also be incorporated into the government’s €700 million road restructuring plan. “We appeal to Transport Malta not to regard a road just as a passage for vehicles but also as a passage for pedestrians who need to be in contact with nature in an urban environment,” the Church commission said.

“The Environment Commission is not convinced that enough efforts, skills and innovation have been resorted to in order to ensure that trees in urban areas are safeguarded.”

The Church also criticised the current Development Notification Order (DNO) system, which currently allows development with minimum or no notification to the Planning Authority. “The fact that minimum public consultation is carried out does not augur well for the preservation of the relationship between people and trees.”

The Commission urged the Environment and Resources Authority to protect urban areas “which have an impressive tree cover” under the Trees and Woodland Protection Regulations, arguing that these areas “give such streets their unmistakable character”

The Church’s Commission also commended the government’s commitment to improving the environment, while hoping that “more areas in the country are earmarked for afforestation”.

The suggestions were being presented as part of the ‘World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation’, which takes place on September 1 prior to a fully-fledged Church Nature Month.

A mass in celebration of Nature Month will also be celebrated next Saturday at St John’s Co-Cathedral and will be celebrated by Archbishop Charles Scicluna.