Friday, 20 June 2008

RAM Press Release- Armier Squatters and Hondoq ir-Rummien

Press Release: 20th June 2008

The Ramblers’ Association of Malta finds it unbelievable and disquieting that the Prime Minister has “secretly” consented to sanction the illegal occupation of public land at Armier in a pre-election gimmick. To add insult to injury, Enemalta is now proposing to build a substation estimated at €82,000 so that these illegal settlements can be better-served. The Association is deeply hurt at how both large political parties are pandering to the unjustified demands of these organised squatters. RAM considers this expense out of taxpayers’ money to be most unjust, ill-advised and indeed provocative to that part of society that is honest. This time Dr Gonzi will be setting a very dangerous precedent. He breaches basic moral ethics by rewarding wrong-doers, making well-behaved citizens feel like stupid losers for being upright and law-abiding.

RAM has also noted that the Qala Local Council Dr Gonzi is being given €10,000 out of public funds in order to conduct its own technical study into the Hondoq ir-Rummien EIA. RAM believes that such a proposed massive project in an ODZ area should not even have been considered in the first place. Why waste people’s time and money on such an abhorrent project? Is this just a gesture of appeasement, so that the government can then say that Qala residents were given the resources to combat this so-called development? The PM, now directly responsible for MEPA, had said, “ODZ is ODZ”. Or was this just pre-election talk? We still believe that the PM has the long-term good of the country at heart, and this project definitely does not fit the bill. It will simply contribute to the decline of Gozo as a pristine place, for both locals and visitors. Why are we still set on ruining every last bit of relatively-unspoilt countryside on these blessed islands? Why keep on entertaining this type of planning application? If this project goes through, it will simply reinforce the feeling of common citizens that the big developers will always have their way in the end, thus contributing to the feeling of hopelessness.

The Association cannot but welcome the new MLP leader’s declarations (made in the course of his interview on Dissett) regarding his proposed environmental course of action. We refer to his definitively excluding golf courses (this has been RAM’s policy all along) and to his defining the Hondoq ir-Rummien project as unsustainable. This too is perfectly in line with what our Association and other Environmental NGOs have been repeating these last years. RAM now eagerly awaits an MLP policy statement on the Armier squatters.

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