Editorial: A new agency for a better environment

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 January, 2023 at 12:56 pm by Andre Camilleri

An electoral pledge made by the Labour government saw the light of day earlier this week when Energy and Environment Minister Miriam Dalli launched the setting up of a new agency, Project Green, that will be responsible for implementing several environmental projects over the next seven years.

Some €700m are set to be invested in this timeframe, making it the largest venture to be undertaken by the government in this legislature, and beyond.

One can argue about whether there is a need for yet another agency to take care of this pledge. Don’t we already have too many of them? Cannot the work to be carried out by the agency be within the responsibility of the ministry?

We will have to wait and see what Project Green will come up with before we make our judgment on this. As things stand now, the idea is in its infancy and the agency will need its time to make its presence felt.

The project will focus on more afforestation, reclamation of land and the regeneration of spaces which have been left abandoned, as well as that of others which will be completely revamped. One idea that has already been mentioned is turning the main road that separates the two sides of San Gwann into a pedestrian area or, as it is now being labelled, “a green space”, with cars passing underneath.

Let’s hope that, if this materialises, the opportunity is taken to improve the traffic flow in the area in question. The roundabout at the top of the hill is causing a massive jam almost at any time of the day.

In her speech to launch the agency, Minister Miriam Dalli said that the aim behind the projects is for citizens to have a better quality of life and create a better environment for young and old. The mission will be to provide open spaces where people can relax and enjoy themselves.

We are sure that the agency has a tough battle ahead, as most open spaces have already been eaten up by development, and the little that is left is at the mercy of greedy developers. It is to be expected that the agency will find opposition from developers whose sole intention is to build on every centimetre of land that is still available.

One important factor that was mentioned by the minister was the plan to involve all stakeholders before any decisions are taken, and this includes the residents, particularly those who live in the areas in question. One does hope that what the minister has promised will come to be. Too often, residents are the last to know about a project that directly involves them, and on many occasions it would already be too late to change what has already been decided.

The new agency will also serve as a coordinator between other agencies, ministries and local councils. Here again, it is hoped that this will not mean added bureaucracy.

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