Write here your own ideas and practical suggestions of how to improve the Maltese Environment.

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Post by Xemxi » Fri Jan 18, 2008 6:33 pm

Hi Nature lovers,
The topic is not supposed to be MEPA but this is the organization that is allowing the degradation of a lot of our natural environment. It is said that if there is money to be made, nature is to suffer for it. Someone also once said that a building contractor finds a beautiful place, bulldozes all the trees and plants, builds roads and houses and then names the strees after the plants which were destroyed. (Or words to that effect). How very true!
Well, now here is what I am worried about:
During the end of last summer I noticed a Planning Authority notice stuck to a wall in Mistra Bay. I checked up to see what it was about and felt that I had to complain to the PA, which I did. The notice was removed and nothing more happened. Now I have just received a confidencial e-mail from MEPA telling me that the original plans about Mistra bay have been changed and that if I want to see them, they are available at their premises. There are 15 days to make comments.
This time the new proposal cannot be found on internet, or I could not find it. To put you all better in the picture, below is a copy of a letter I wrote for a news paper but which was never published. My fault! I forgot to give them my full address. By the time I noticed, I decided that the subject had become a little stale.
This is the letter:
Development at Mistra!

A few days ago, I was surprised to see a Mepa legal notice recently attached to a wall in Mistra bay. ”What was this about?” I thought, while jotting down the PA number. When I got home that evening, I checked the MEPA website to get more details, but the information given left me asking more questions. Here is what it said:
"To upgrade Mistra Bay, comprising of proper alignment of road, organization of car parking spaces, construction of public toilets, refurbishing of slipway including its additional use for bathers and general landscaping works including street lighting".
The application was received by Mepa on the 14th of August.
Now I agree that the slipway is in need of repair, but the rest is just spoiling the already degrading state of Mistra's natural environment.
“Refurbishing of slipway including its additional use for bathers and general landscaping works”.
Does this mean pouring concrete over the beach on either side of the slipway? God forbid!
“Proper alignment of road”.
What does that mean? The road is already very nicely and properly aligned with the watercourse and the beach. Or are we to take it that the road is going to be made straight? This is a country road, not a highway, let’s just leave it as it is. And why put street lighting in a country street!? Would that not be called Light Pollution? (What's wrong with moon and stars?)
Isn’t Mepa there to safeguard just such a kind of development from proceeding? I fail to understand how it was approved!
I know Mistra since I was a little boy - that means over 50 years. This beautiful and peaceful bay is gradually going to degrade into a second Bugibba, if we let it. It is my opinion that the development planned is another step in that direction. I remember the now tarmac-ed road when it was a picturesque country path where no more than a donkey and cart would pass, and the growth of canes was twice as wide, with water flowing between, and lots of frogs. Those days fresh water flowed all year and the fresh-water crab (il-qabru) lived there too.
The area where the fresh water meets the sea, there use to be a lot of "simar" growing. Only two small clumps are left now. I hope they are not removed to make way for cars to park. On the beach there used to grow a variety of salt-resistant plants. Now they are mostly gone. The little left is trodden on and systematically removed by the local council workers who come daily in summer to remove all the garbage left behind by the multitudes who spend the day and night there. (Unfortunately, the rubbish dumped among the rocks on the sides of the bay, is left for the rats to enjoy).
Last year a plaque was erected, forbidding BBQs. In a few days it was turned round, peeled off and finally removed completely. Of course BBQing never stopped.
I wonder if camping is allowed in Mistra bay. Not only do campers monopolize the beach for a weekend, and often for a whole week and more, they also camp in the (quasi)-maquis area on the rocky slope at this end of Bajda Ridge, removing shrubs, widening pathways, breaking away the rocks for easy access, and generally destroying what was once almost impenetrable vegetation.
I could go on, but hopefully that which I have mentioned is enough to make some of those people who do not appreciate the beauty of nature, at least realize that there are others around who have different opinions. There are people who do not want to see the whole of Malta turn into a concrete jungle. There are people who would prefer to preserve the few places of natural beauty left in these Islands. We have enough of our land covered in cement, tarmac and buildings already.
And it was signed by myself.
The first opportunity I get I will go over to MEPA to try and find out what is being planned for Mistra.
Inthe mean time I hope to get your comment and also action if it becomes necessary.

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Post by RB » Fri Jan 18, 2008 7:54 pm

Sadly a lot of people consider the natural landscape to be wasteland that requires "improving" or must be put to some good use to be worth anything.

That is why a lot of the "shock horror" about golf courses from many was about any loss of agricultural land, rather than the destruction of natural habitat.

This may be a rant, but - I really did not have much personal objection to the Verdala golf course seeing as it would have taken up agricultural land, which at worst meant that the net result ecologically would have been little change. I very seriously object to anything similar at Xaghra il-Hamra however, just so you know where I'm coming from.

Without Verdala, there is pressure to find an alternative - the constant threat of somewhere else being committed. I near enough foresaw Xaghra coming - and it's far from over yet.

Elections are coming so all is quiet on the golfing front - but who knows what's round the corner. The Opposition's position is already clear another 2-3 courses would be just fine - of course the sweetener "only where appropriate" is appended, but where exactly is appropriate?

I don't have many suggestions where one may harmlessly place a golf course but you can bet your white balls that "wasteland" aka natural landscape/environment somewhere will be "just fine".

My rant continued is that I sometimes feel that environmental groups are like the Opposition (any opposition really, not just the present) - if any Government says white, the Opposition says black, almost by default - and many environmental groups tend to object to absolutely everything without proper consideration. The end result is that there are so many objections coming from these quarters that each individual objection's importance becomes severely diluted, the objectors in general are not taken seriously, and the most pressing and valid causes suffer. After all there is only so much effort that environmentally conscious organisations and individuals can make before suffering burnout, and likewise there are only so many causes that can capture the public's attention at any one time.

And sometimes, just sometimes, success in one's crusades may just be bad news.



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Post by Xemxi » Sun Jan 20, 2008 6:40 pm

Yes RB, you are right. Sometimes one has to swallow a bad thing, if not, something worse may have to be taken. It's all in the name of "progress".
It's as if we humans are a bunch of caterpillars, all eating from one plant until there are only tough twigs lift. Luckily for caterpillars there are usually other plants of the same type nearby if they need more food. In our case, there is only one World.
But I am not going to give up on Mistra bay. At least not yet.
I just cannot understand how most people don't see the beauty of a place like Mistra bay in its natural state. It has already changed quite a lot over the years since I was young - for the worse. I pity the greater majority of youth today who have little or no experience of what is really natural and therefore little appreciation for it.

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Post by Xemxi » Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:05 pm

Today I went to inspect the updated plans for Mistra bay development. I am glad to say that in fact there is not going to be much development at all. The place where the public toilets are going to be is a small square in a well-chosen location. According to the plans, the pebble beach will be improved and cleaned, but no covering with concrete. Of course there is nothing we can do about all the people who come especially in Summer and prevent the plants from growing very close to the beach as they once used to.

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Post by RB » Tue Jan 22, 2008 11:29 am

That's great Xemxi, and well done for the initiative.

Would it that all development be done in full respect of the environment and with only minimal intervention.


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Post by MWP admin » Tue Jan 22, 2008 12:31 pm

I am quite proud that nature has been protected in several occasions recentely:

- Ta Cenc development
- Xaghra l-Hamra l/o Ghajn Tuffieha (The golf course!)
- Olysses Lodge / Ramla Hamra
- This Mistra area

Maybe one can mention more examples. So Mepa is doing things right. I hope it stays so after the election :!: :!: :!:
Stephen Mifsud

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