NGOs launch coalition for public open spaces

A newly formed coalition, Spazji Miftuħa, has been launched on Thursday. The coalition was formed by twenty different NGOs and local groups that are dedicated to the preservation of public spaces in Malta.

In a statement, it was explained that the coalition was formed after it was suggested that two woodlands may be handed over to the hunters’ lobby to manage. Following the public claims, the NGOs have written to Prime Minister Robert Abela requesting a meeting. The NGOs said that while Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia had acknowledged their request, Abela has yet to reply.

“Closing off two popular spots for nine months would mean the end of any sort of activity in the areas except for hunting. There will be no camping, no picnics, no walks in these areas if the agreement goes ahead. This issue will affect all Maltese citizens, not merely our own members.”

The coalition said that it had no objection to the publication of all agreements related to the management of their sites, in response to a statement issued by a lobby last week.

“We believe in the principle of transparency,” said a spokesperson for the coalition. “There should never be the need to file any freedom of information requests to obtain this information, which should always be immediately available in the public domain, without any secrecy whatsoever.”

The coalition urged other NGOs as well as formal and informal groups to register their endorsement.

The NGOs and various groups stated that they are strongly against the limitation on the appropriate public access to places of natural amenity, particularly to suit a small part of a minority group and the way in which the cabinet treats public assets as its own.

Spazji Miftuħa has also asked the public to sign a petition and fill in a brief survey about the proposal.

The entities behind the coalition are – Archaeological Society of Malta, BICREF, Bicycle Advocacy Group, BirdLife Malta, Din L-Art Ħelwa, Extinction Rebellion Malta, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Franciscan Friars (OFM) Malta, Friends of the Earth Malta, Futur Ambjent Wieħed, Għaqda Siġar Maltin, Isles of the Left, Kamra tal-Periti, Kunsill Studenti Universitarji (KSU), Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta, NASoM (Noise Abatement Society Malta), Outdoor Recreation and Camping Association Malta, Ramblers Association Malta and The Grow 10 Trees Project.