BirdLife disappointed that budget left out the creation of a wildlife crime unit

BirdLife Malta says the budget ignores 'the protection of natural habitats, in particular, ODZ land'

BirdLife Malta is “disappointed” that Budget 2020 did not make reference to the setup of a wildlife crime unit, that it has repeatedly called for.

The bird conservation group said the budget "practically" ignored the protection of natural habitats, in particular, ODZ land, which it said did not seem to be important to the government.

BirdLife Malta said it expected the government to announce the setting up - or at least preparing to set up - a wildlife crime unit, which would "combat crimes related to nature in Malta".

However, the NGO said it welcomed a number of other environmental initiatives - which included incentives to ban the use of plastic and those which will enable Malta to fulfil its EU obligations in relation to single-use plastics.

"We agree with the ban on the importation and production of plastic bags, plastic cutlery, plastic straws and single-use plastic plates from the start of 2021 and the total ban on their distribution and sale after 1 January 2022. We also applaud the subsidy scheme launched by the government to help shops set up green corners, where part of the shop is dedicated to the sale of food products and others by weight using containers provided by the clients."

It said that it also welcomed the incentives to reduce the impact of cars on air pollution, the launch of new ferry connections as an alternative means of transport, the introduction of a lower tariffs and residential charging points for electric vehicles, as well as the news that a final date will soon be recommended after which polluting vehicles will not continue to be imported to Malta.

BirdLife also said that the announcement that the government was planning on publishing studies related to the Malta-Gozo tunnel project was a step in the right direction.

"We look forward to seeing what these studies say. We are also satisfied with the news that there will be an increase in afforestation projects in urban areas and we think that this is a step in the right direction and we also welcome the proposal to roof over part of Regional Road and the Santa Venera Tunnels where a much-needed recreational open space will be created in this area," BirdLife Malta said.