Malta will be home to sustainable development, not concrete jungle – Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat welcomes €115 million investment in new American university, says government is seeking a balance based on sustainable development.

Environmentalists and the government may not always see eye to eye on development, but Malta will become home to sustainable development, and not a concrete jungle, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat pledged this morning.

The prime minister said that the development of an American university in the south of Malta will see around €115 million invested and 400 jobs created. The development, which is earmarked for a site next to Zonqor Point in Marsaskala, has come under fire, with several environmental NGOs expressing concern at the environmental impacts.

On Saturday, Alternattiva Demokratika welcomed the investment but disagreed with the location, an outside-development zone close to a belt of areas of ecological importance, while in addition, several NGOs who spoke to MaltaToday on Sunday also voiced their discontent at the location.

“It is evident that environmentalists do not agree with the decisions taken, but the government was seeking a balance based on sustainable development.”

“Previous governments were reluctant to take any decisions out of fear that it would upset a lobby, be it developers or environmentalists. However, decisions must be taken for the sake of Malta. The economy must grow sustainably but there will be a sustainable development and not a concrete jungle,” Muscat argued while speaking during an interview on One Radio.

Muscat also said that MEPA would also consider alternative sites for the new university, as long as it was in the South of Malta. Nevertheless, he said that the government wanted to use the least arable land as possible.

The prime minister explained that the new university would invest €115 million, create 400 jobs and attract around 4,000 students to Malta

“The project has been in the offing for a while and was initially destined for another country. We want it to be set up in the south because on average, the income of families in the south was the lowest in Malta, with families earning some €2,500 below the average,” he said.

The project is expected to breathe a new lease of life in Marsaskala, with the prime minister explaining that the project would boost Malta’s GDP by 1%, or €20 - €25 million per year.

He said the project would be subject to public consultations, while MEPA would also consider alternative sites, as long as they were in the south. Muscat also said that the new university should be seen together with the development of a natural park.

The natural park will provide an open space which does not pollute and which provides a safe environment, he added.