Project Green to be charged with implementing Labour’s urban greening pledge

Environment Minister Miriam Dalli announces creation of new government agency to implement the Labour Party’s pledge to invest €700 million in urban greening projects

Environment Minister Miriam Dalli
Environment Minister Miriam Dalli

A new government agency, Project Green, will be tasked with the planning and implementation of the Labour Party’s pledge to allocate €700 million to urban greening projects over seven years.

Details on the agency were announced by Environment Minister Miriam Dalli during a parliamentary debate on the budget estimates.

“The agency will coordinate and focus efforts by different entities, local councils and groups who are carrying out very important work in the country’s gardens, natural reserves and open spaces,” Dalli told the House.

During the 2022 General Election campaign, the Labour Party unveiled seven key projects that will see several underground parking areas turn into green public spaces by placing the existing car space in an underground parking.

Over a seven-year period, the Labour Party pledged to invest €700 million to create these spaces. A number of localities including Floriana, San Ġwann, Birkirkara and the Cottonera area have been earmarked for the project.

Dalli said the agency will be collaborating with other government entities to ensure the efficient implementation of these projects.

“We don’t want the repetition of certain works, therefore ensuring there are no unnecessary delays,” she said. “Entities which are already able to carry out certain works should do this work directly.”

The environment minister also said Project Green will ensure the needed consultation with the community is carried out. “In fact we are looking to facilitate specific consultation with the community, and the issuing of schemes for green infrastructure so that councils and regional councils can apply for them.”

She said government will move away from the previous mindset of “wide paths and surrounding walls” when it comes to green infrastructure, opting for more open spaces and trees.

“We want to see new types of open spaces, which are accessible to everyone,” she said. “From eco-gardens to carbon neutral gardens, from large parks to pocket parks, we want to give people new spaces where they can spend their time.”

Government’s focus on a sustainable future

Speaking on the Budget, Dalli said a number of measures listed in the Budget, highlight government’s commitment to create a “sustainable future”.

“Our vision is clear, we want a sustainable economy which improves people’s quality of life,” she said.

But the energy minister said government cannot provide a bright future “without a strong today.”

“Unlike the PN, in the midst of an international crisis, we have continued to shield people from rising energy prices and a soaring inflation,” she said, comparing today’s situation with that of a Nationalist government.

“In the wake of an international crisis, the PN raised energy prices, which in turn resulted in a wider impact on the economy and society. We have learnt from their mistakes and will not repeat them, because a PL government does not believe in that policy.”

She compared the situation in Malta to that in other countries like England and Italy. “If we did what other countries did, as Bernard Grech wants us to, inflation would be more than double of what it is today.”

Dalli also mentioned a number of foreign investments in a number of sectors, including aviation and maritime, which will be announced later this year.

“They say we don’t have a vision, yet we have the lowest rate of unemployment and the largest number of women in the workforce in the country’s history,” she said.

On renewable energy, the minister said that government want to lower the pollution output from the country’s energy production. “That is why we are investing in the second interconnector, to continue increasing the use of renewable energies.”