'Start with those provided by nature' - Greens call out government's inconsistency on open spaces

ADPD said that PL's €700 million urban greening pledge had to also reflect the strategy for 2030 to reduce 41% of cars

ADPD - The Green Party said that Misraħ is-Sebgħa ta’ Ġunju 1919 square in Ħamrun has been destroyed and an open space was eliminated (Photo: ADPD)
ADPD - The Green Party said that Misraħ is-Sebgħa ta’ Ġunju 1919 square in Ħamrun has been destroyed and an open space was eliminated (Photo: ADPD)

ADPD – The Green Party called out the government on its pledge to safeguard the open spaces, arguing that it has to start with those provided by nature, and not turn them over for speculation.

During a press conference in Ħamrun, the Greens said that urban renewal should be used as an excuse for more parking spaces.

They said that PL’s electoral pledge of €700 million for the greening of urban zones should reflect the policy declaration made by the government, that there should be a 41% reduction of cars by 2030, to the level we had in 1990.

ADPD Deputy Secretary General Melissa Bagley said that proposals for greening in urban areas are commendable but a consistent policy is required also in this sector.

“This project in Misraħ is-Sebgħa ta’ Ġunju 1919 in Ħamrun is a classic example of how things should not be done. The €1.5 million spent on the concrete structure led to the destruction of a square that could have been converted into an open green space for pedestrians in the heart of a residential zone,” Bagley said

She argued that the projects announced as part of the urban greening pledge included an unnecessary emphasis on new roads and parking spaces.

“The Minister for the Environment is simply showing us that the PL’s plan for urban renewal are simply buzz words meant to impress: it is simply another excuse for more building and concrete”, concluded Bagley.

According to ADPD Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo, Misraħ is-Sebgħa ta’ Ġunju 1919 square in Ħamrun has been destroyed and an open space was eliminated.

“Cars have taken over. Cars are being prioritised by a Government that has recently declared that it wants to reduce cars on our roads. This is crass inconsistency: the left-hand does not know what the right hand is doing,” Cacopardo said.

He emphasised that pedestrian areas with community spaces had to take priority and said that the few parking spaces in the Ħamrun square could have been eliminated. “People, air quality and streets and spaces dedicated to the community should be of utmost priority.”

The ADPD Chairperson said it was senseless that the Government promoted the need to safeguard open spaces but allowed and encouraged projects like “unnecessary” supermarkets that worsened the traffic situation in Malta.

He said that the proposed development on Comino was obscene and that the speculators were ignoring the protection status of the island.

“The Environment Minister should be consistent in her actions and if she truly wanted to safeguard our open spaces she should start with those that have been provided by nature. Only then we may believe her green credentials,” Cacopardo said in reference to Energy Minister Miriam Dalli.
Land use in Malta has not been appropriate for many years. There has been too much development. We must ensure that this stops.

“Malta, and to a certain extent Gozo, have become a mass of contiguous buildings. Arable land has been eaten up and many open spaces and gardens have been wiped out. The destruction continues.”
Cacopardo argued that the urban zones could be improved through a swift implementation of policies that reduced the number of cars on the road.

“This requires that our urban zones become safer and offer essential services for residents, thereby reducing our dependency on private cars.”

He added that as a result of the land use planning policies, small retail outlets in the towns and villages had been suffocated by large commercial centres and supermarkets.

“We all agree on the benefits of creating open spaces accessible for all, but it should be done properly. This has to be carried out in a way that avoids past mistakes. We need public open spaces free of pollution, with free access to clean air. The limited resources of our country can be put to much better use than that currently being made by this government,” Cacopardo concluded.