Greens slam ‘inconsistent’ policies that aim to reduce cars but eat up agricultural land

ADPD The Green Party says that a sizeable tract of agricultural land in an ODZ area in Qormi is threatened by a supermarket application

ADPD the Green Party slammed the government’s ‘inconsistent’ environmental policies that encourage alternative transport but approve the destruction of agricultural land.

During a press conference on Saturday at the site of a proposed building of a supermarket on agricultural land outside the development zone in Qormi, ADPD Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said that despite the Agriculture Ministry’s acknowledgment that Malta’s eco-system was slowly being eroded, it was not sounding the alarm against the approval of applications by the Planning Authority.

The Agricultural Land Reform White Paper published for public consultation by the ministry in October states that “controlling the acquisition and ownership of land is fundamental to guaranteeing the sustainability of agriculture and food production, as well as the protection of the rural environment.”

Cacopardo questioned what was holding the ministry back from stopping other ministries from contributing to the “unbridled destruction of agricultural land”.

“Why does it not declare itself against the continuous approval of applicants by the Planning Authority?” Cacopardo said.

He highlighted the government’s strategy to reduce the number of cars on the road by 41% by 2030. “But then we are faced with multiple projects for supermarkets that not only destroy arable land but encourage the use of private cars! This inconsistency is responsible for the state of the environment in Malta.”

He insisted that the Ministry of Agriculture should take the necessary action to ensure that ideals expressed in documents are carried out in practice by ensuring that public projects as well as the policies carried out by government agencies and institutions consider the intrinsic value of agricultural land in their decisions.

ADPD Deputy Chairperson Sandra Gauci said that a sizeable tract of agricultural land in an ODZ area in Qormi was “once again” targeted for destruction, as an application for the building of a supermarket has been submitted.

“It is a well-known fact that agricultural land does not only have an economic value but also an environmental and social one – it is not only the main source of income for a number of families but the little green spaces we have left provide a breathing space in between the crowded urban areas in our country,” Gauci said.

She questioned why the “repeated attacks” on agricultural land were allowed to continue with the blessing of the Planning Authority.

Gauci stated that the “attacks” were carried out through the extension of “unnecessary” road infrastructure and the transformation of considerable agricultural tracts into recreational areas to the detriment of agriculture.

“The Planning Authority has the legal remit to stop this but it has continuously failed to act. This madness must be stopped immediately before it is too late,” Gauci insisted.