Rampant construction leading to 'potentially gigantic problem', Social Wellbeing Faculty Dean warns

Social Wellbeing Faculty Dean Professor Andrew Azzopardi has appealed against the rampant wave of construction sweeping the island

Malta could be facing a
Malta could be facing a "potentially gigantic problem" if rampant construction continues, Professor Andrew Azzopardi said

Professor Andrew Azzopardi has warned that Malta is witnessing a built-up environment that is leading towards a "potentially gigantic problem", with the construction industry eating away at the heart of the island's social fabric.

The Social Wellbing Faculty Dean voiced his concerns, in a press release, regarding pollution and low air quality, toxic waste, uncontrollable litter and contamination of the sea. He placed much of the blame on the construction industry, which has been garnering increased attention in the current building boom, which he posits has put aside all thoughts of sustainability.

"A major concern that is creeping in is that law abiding citizens are being faced with a dilemma brought about by a neoliberal approach of ‘individual’ versus ‘community rights’. If we are taken- over by the, ‘everyone is doing it, why shouldn’t I’ forma mentis, it will essentially mean the beginning of the end of the values that have distinguished our society," Azzopardi said.

Malta might be “a rolling ‘economic success story’”, he remarked, but the same cannot be said in terms of its environment. He said the island might risk "a collapse in its infrastructure" if its keep chasing high-rise buildings and attempting to indulge in mass tourism.

He condemned the 2006 rationalisation exercise, a revision that saw a number of sites previously within Outside Development Zones adopted into development boundaries.

Continual construction, which emphases only economic wealth, rather than quality of life at all levels, has also massively contributed to the issues of a lack of open space, the diminishment of the countryside, the destruction of mature trees, and an increase in traffic, he underlined.

Azzopardi was also critical of the MEPA demerger, which he believes has resulted in the Environment and Resources Authority serving a mere consultative role to the more powerful Planning Authority, as opposed to acting as a “guardian” which should enforce and maintain ethical standards, as well as developing policy and implementing strategy. He also questioned the activism, or lack thereof in his opinion, of environmental NGOs, suggesting they may become “part of the… system”.

“It is the right time to ensure the level headedness of politicians, policy makers, academics and all stakeholders when debating ‘the environment’ and they need to be vigilant on the collateral impact of the decisions that are made and taken. It is the right time for the State to assume responsibility when common sense does not prevail. It is the right time for all the citizens to stand up against the impending obliteration of our communities,” Azzopardi appealed.

In the 2018 Environmental Performance Index, Malta ranked fourth among the top five countries, following behind Switzerland, France, and Denmark. Nevertheless, concern remains high among the population regarding over-development.

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