Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent: This Masterplan should be scrapped and process halted immediately

Several organisations alongside residents of the area are calling for the current Paceville Masterplan to be scrapped and the related process halted immediately. Whilst we welcome the idea of a Masterplan, it has become clear that this Masterplan is structurally flawed and cannot be improved. Thus, it would be useless at best, and devastating at worst, to continue the process related to this Masterplan which can lead to its approval and implementation.

During last Wednesday’s Parliamentary Committee meeting, a number of disconcerting issues emerged as the company that designed the Masterplan, Mott MacDonald, were answering to questions from Parliamentarians and the public. First and foremost, this Masterplan envisages the displacement of people and small businesses to accommodate private interests. Despite envisaging such a dramatic impact on residents and small businesses, these have not been consulted at design stage. As a Mott MacDonald representative stated, the Masterplan was developed entirely on the basis of “aspirations for sites”, that is, the developers’ wishes to develop specific sites in the Paceville area. This point alone invalidates the Masterplan since it evidences that this whole exercise was built on the wrong foundation. Development should serve the interests of the community and the environment, and not the other way round.

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It also emerged that Mott MacDonald were unaware of important legislation related to development in Malta. In fact, the Masterplan proposes development within the 15-meter foreshore that is considered as public domain under the Public Domain Act, and thus cannot be developed. It describes buildings of 15-stories as “low-rise” when under Maltese legislation such buildings are considered “high-rise”. It also proposes land reclamation that will take up an ODZ area (the seabed) and threaten a Nature 2000 designated site as well as negatively impact the surrounding beaches, seabed and sea water.

Moreover, this Masterplan does not consider the massive impact that such intense development will have on surrounding localities.

Considering that the Masterplan is entirely centred around accommodating a few private interests, and ignores everything else, there is no other viable option than for it to be scrapped and the whole process started again from scratch. Should this Masterplan be approved, even if amended, it will have devastating consequences on people and the environment. A new Masterplan should be developed and this should:
● Be based on people’s needs and environmental safeguards, and not solely on developers’ wants
● Residents should be consulted and actively involved at design stage
● Be in line with Maltese legislation
● No public land or building should be earmarked for private development
● It should be drawn on a national level so that it truly reflects the overall needs of our country

We would like to remind the public of the Gathering that will be held on Saturday 12th November in order to express our alarm at this Masterplan. It will start at 10:30am from the Love sign in Spinola Bay. Besides the direct negative impact that this Masterplan will have on people and the environment, its approval would also set a very dangerous precedent; that a small elite can create designs that, in one go, radically change the environment we live in – including the displacement of people – to serve a few private interests. We have to stop this!

Participating in this Press Conference were: residents of Paceville and surrounding localities, activists involved in Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Moviment Graffitti, Front Ħarsien ODZ, Ramblers Association, Youth for the Environment, Nature Trust, Żminijietna – Voice of the Left and Friends of the Earth Malta.