The proposed project of an American University of Malta being built in an ODZ (Outside Development Zone) at Zonqor point has caused a mixture of opinions to be voiced; the general opinion being in favour of the environment.
As Youth for the Environment (Y4TE), we believe that areas designated as ODZ should remain untouched and continued to be preserved in their natural state. As a youth NGO which voices the opinions of many young people who are the future inheritors of this island, we believe that this project should be relocated to another suitable area.
New buildings are constantly being constructed, while large numbers of abandoned buildings found in Malta are left out of the equation. Unfortunately, the Maltese Islands may be compared to an over-built concrete jungle surrounded by sea; having limited green spaces and pristine land. All of this has a direct impact on both the mental and physical health of the Maltese.
Zonqor point in Marsascala is one of the few areas left which displays a number of agricultural fields and habitats untouched by development. Farmers working the fields at Zonqor point have expressed their concern about the ever-decreasing agricultural land in Malta. The go ahead towards building a University in this area of the South may lead to further expansion of businesses and further development in the area, thus causing a large negative environmental impact whilst also affecting those who rely on agriculture as a source of income.
The deliberate disregard of the importance of the local natural environment by the government and MEPA is raising a lot of questions from environmentalists and NGOs. The present rate of using virgin land for development is an alarming issue which needs to be addressed.
Finally, Youth for the Environment would like to point out that untouched land does not give the go ahead for developers to start building without undergoing a proper Environment Impact Assessment of the area, where possible consequences and impacts are thoroughly considered. Also, a project of this scale must have full transparency, where the public is consulted beforehand. The proposed American University may have a number of advantages regarding education and economic prosperity however such action should not be done at the expense of our invaluable natural heritage and countryside.