Pre-budget document lacks provisions for the environment – FAA

‘It can only be concluded that this reflects the lack of importance given to environmental health by the present government,’ FAA says

Environment NGO Flimkien għal Ambjent Ahjar expressed concern over the “total lack of environmental provisions” in the pre-budget document launched for 2015.

“FAA is extremely concerned by the fact that the pre-budget proposals launched yesterday are totally lacking in any provision for the environment.  It can only be concluded that this is reflects the lack of importance given to environmental health by the present Government,” FAA coordinator Astrid Vella said.

Recent studies have shown that 14% of health problems in Malta are directly attributable to environmental issues. The studies are backed up by other studies published by the World Health Organisation, the European Union, the European Parliament and leading medical research institutes which point to the impact of air pollution, sound pollution and electromagnetic fields (wireless telecommunication facilities), on children’s physical and mental development, residents’ health and premature deaths.

“Investment to improve air and sound pollution would eventually reduce the nation’s spending on public and private healthcare,” FAA said.

Similar studies carried out by EU and US authorities have established the association between access to green areas and improved physical and mental health.  

“Government must allocate funds to purchase, at market prices, key green lungs in polluted urban areas.  Manoel Island, which is densely wooded, is one such area which ought to be preserved as a much needed public park, serving as an essential lung for the over-developed North Harbours conurbation,” it said.

It also called on government to provide a fund to finally honour the authorities’ pledge to purchase and restore neglected heritage properties that are of historic and architectural importance.

“This would not only strengthen Malta’s cultural identity, but prove to be a worthwhile investment by creating employment opportunities, increasing Malta’s touristic product competitiveness and drawing more quality tourists to our shores,” it said.

FAA went on to underline the urgent need of a concerted effort to safeguard

Malta’s limited natural water supplies through metering of boreholes and conservation of rainwater presently being discharged into the sea.  

“Failure to take steps to remedy this situation negatively impact Malta’s economy due to increased electricity consumption required to produce more water through reverse osmosis,” it said.

FAA welcomed the budget proposals’ emphasis on creation of employment in

Gozo. A cost-benefit analysis, it said, is required in order to assess whether the funds to be spent on a bridge or tunnel to give Gozitans better access to Malta, would be more effectively spent on creating job opportunities to enable young Gozitan achievers to remain in Gozo.

“Whilst Flimkien għal Ambjent welcomes the insight which the present government allows the Maltese public into the pre-budget proposals, emphasizing a greater degree of transparency, the NGO stresses the urgent need for the government to focus within this budget also on environmental concerns of the nation: failing to do so systematically and in all earnest will lead to an ever-growing multiplication of problems for the residents of these islands.”

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