PN would convince AUM to save Zonqor site - Busuttil

The PN has outlined a wide-reaching vision for the environment in a document launched today during which the opposition announced it would 'persuade the Jordanian investors to give up the site in Zonqor'

PN leader Simon Busuttil with his environment team, which includes shadow minister Marthese Portelli, MPs Toni Bezzina and Ryan Callus and Simone Vella Lenicker (Photo: PN/Facebook)
PN leader Simon Busuttil with his environment team, which includes shadow minister Marthese Portelli, MPs Toni Bezzina and Ryan Callus and Simone Vella Lenicker (Photo: PN/Facebook)

A Nationalist government would "enter into talks with the American University of Malta in order to persuade them to give up the site in Zonqor and save the ODZ land from development".

Speaking at the launch of his party's 80-page document titled “A Better Quality of Life for You – Proposals for the Environment January 2017” PN leader Simon Busuttil described the PN document as "a national one".

On the AUM site, the PN said that no development had yet taken place at Zonqor and therefore "we are still in time to save it".

The plan, he said, was for the good of the country and the party, but also for the good of future generations.

The process of compiling it had started a year ago, Busuttil said.

“This wasn't a rushed job, written by someone locked in a room by himself. We spent a whole year meeting with organisations… in the living context of ODZ and Townsquare; in the context of an environment that is in an ever worse shape, contrary to what the government had promised.

“We want to pull the environment out of political controversy and stop reaching pre-electoral deals affecting it. Someone must have the courage to come up with a long-term vision.”

Busuttil said the environment must be protected by the Constitution to show that the commitment is there and that politicians won’t sell it for votes.

“I am convinced that there are people who prefer the long term vision over the short term.”

The document's 171 proposals are “not just a wish list of what we want to do three decades from now, but a journey that we are walking together,” Busuttil explained.

The protection of the environment “should not be just a pious hope,” said the Opposition leader, militating against what he termed “a culture of everyone doing as he pleases, with no consequences. The law of the jungle.”

Busuttil said he was taking aim not at planning trivialities, but at the issues that affect the country.

“The skyline, the use of undeveloped land, whether we are going to make our country another Dubai. There is no doubt that Joseph Muscat and his Cabinet's plan is the ‘Dubai-ification’ of our country.”

In the interests of continuity, the Planning Authority would not be reformed under a future PN administration, he said. He promised that that administration would, however, give the existing authorities the tools and the capacity to decide fairly.

“If you deserve a permit you should get it… let us not let our country benefit the same few people.”

Once again, Busuttil conceded that his party “might not have had the best record on this,” but urged a forward-looking approach.

Among the proposals, Busuttil promised a policy on the skyline, which he said belonged to all – “taghna lkoll”.

The PN, he said, was insisting that the Paceville masterplan is scrapped altogether.

Townsquare Project:

Busuttil pointed out that this had been approved by the planning board by one vote, with the chairman of the board being absent. He made a public appeal to investors to “review their plans and listen to the people,” and act out of their own volition to challenge exaggerated development plans.

Solar rights and solar roads

Busuttil said he was shocked by the revelation that Malta was the only EU country not on track with its environmental targets and that he aimed to bring Malta back on track to reach them.

He advocated protecting people who had installed solar panels at great expense, from being put in the shade by nearby constructions.

“I'm not saying that the neighbour hasn't got the right to build but if society gives him permission, it must also compensate the person who had invested thousands in PV panels.”

Another PN proposal was to pave roads with solar panels. An apparent favourite of the opposition leader, he pointed out that other countries had introduced solar panels on road surfaces.

He asked why the government had not considered this option, suggesting that it was because the government had different priorities, values and interests.

“I have no doubt that the Prime Minister's environmental policy reflects his values, as this does mine.”

The PN had always worked for wealth, he said, “but there is other wealth that doesn't involve money. Natural beauty, health.”

“There are some things that you cannot measure in monetary terms but which are crucial to the quality of our lives.”