NGOs Demand Meeting with PM, Environment Minister
A group of NGOs is asking government to immediately publish the full terms of any agreement regarding the transfer of the Miżieb and Aħrax open spaces to the FKNK, which was revealed earlier this week through the media. The NGOs are concerned that through this agreement, the general public will be unable to enjoy these areas for a period of at least nine out of twelve months, considering that the hunting lobby wants exclusive access during open seasons to hunt quail, turtle dove and also rabbits.
In its statement, the coalition of NGOs is questioning why the cordoning off of these two popular recreational spots and their transfer to one of the two hunters’ organisations was only made public through the media. In his proposal to the Cabinet, the Prime Minister not only bypassed the Lands Authority but also ignored the sentiments of the general public, who enjoys access to these areas for walks, picnics and camping.
“No details about this deal have been made public. This is definitely not the way to dispose of open spaces and we fully believe that the general public, and not a single lobby, should be given priority when it comes to open recreational spaces. In this particular moment, when most of the country is self-isolating at home, we find it appalling that a lobby can be given two large open spaces such as these, without proper consultation and in total secrecy. This is not the lobbying transparency we have been promised. Moreover, government does not have an electoral mandate to hand over open spaces to lobbies.”
The NGOs, representing different spheres and public interests, especially those in the preservation of natural environment, are strongly in opposition to the:
- limitations on the appropriate public access to places of natural amenity, particularly to suit a small part of a minority group;
- continuation of this way of governing public assets;
- way in which Cabinet treats public assets as its own.
The NGOs are also demanding an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister and the Environment Minister, in view of the apparent lack of opposition to this project from within Cabinet itself. The decision should be postponed until there is a proper consultation process held with the general public, and affirm their intention to contest any decision taken on this matter in every way possible.