The ‘I want it all’ Syndrome

It is clear to all that as time goes by and the general level of wealth of the Maltese increases (I’m not commenting about the increasing wealth gap here as that deserves a post on its own ) we Maltese are becoming more… shall we say daring in what we want and demand not only in terms of service and quality (roads please) but also in what is readily available for consumption.

Here I will not talk about high rises… which is already quite audacious given the small size of our island, its skyline and its utterly inadequate infrastructure. I’m going to talk in fact on an utterly ‘low-rise’ subject, but one that will be possible even more devastating to the environment.

The proposed Motor Race Trek.

Now, before everyone jumps and assaults me on this – I have no problem with motor race trekking per se. It is a sport practised by thousands worldwide. However, we have a spectre of a motor race trek crop up every few months in Malta. Just last week the Malta Motor Sport Federation posted a survey asking if people want such a trek. Of course the answer is overwhelmingly in favour, because there is a thing called Bias.

My unequivocal opposition to the motor race trek in Malta is clear on various fronts. Do we really want a large uptake of agricultural land? There is no feasible way of having a proper motor race trek without resorting to that. Should we further decrease the natural landscape of the Maltese islands? Some have argued that this will actually preserve the landscape… really? How about having the quiet of a wayside chapel restored by patches of asphalt to the constant coming of cars here and there? What about Air pollution which will definitely increase if such a project were to go ahead, causing health problems to many residents nearby? There isn’t a spot in Malta that is viable for such a trek without impinging on nearby villages. What about Noise pollution? Malta is already the noisiest place in the EU … are we so disrespectful to ourselves and to others that we do not consider the damage noise pollution is causing to us as a nation, as Silence is lost to the past, and rendered inaccessible to most?

More tongue-in-cheek perhaps is this government’s preparation for such a race trek. It is citing it as an ‘educational’ facility to educate people on driving. Seriously? Should you insult our intelligence in this way? In a country with a maximum speed limit of 80kph should we educate people to drive faster? Do not be fooled – they only cite is as an ‘educational’ facility so as to facilitate the construction of such a facility on ODZ land, since ODZ land can be taken up for educational purposes.

Figure 1: One of the areas rumoured as being a possible site for a late motor race trek facility.

Figure 1: One of the areas rumoured as being a possible site for a late motor race trek facility.

In other words, this is yet another case of appealing to a lobby, in this case the motor lobby, to get votes. But should we allow such an massive construction to go ahead? Agricultural land will be forever lost. Water will not be allowed to filter down into our fast-depleting water table. Soil will be lost. Silence will become a memory. Quiet will become a luxury. We will increase air pollution in areas that so far offer fresh, clean breathable air (for the most part).

I will end this article with one example. I like climbing mountains. I do not expect a mountain to be built in Malta to accommodate my hobby. Dear motor sports enthusiasts, with all due respect, please realise that our country has limitations. I kindly invite you to consider not being spoilt, frankly, and to do what most people here do – save up, and practise the sport in facilities abroad, even in nearby Sicily (there are various options). Our overdeveloped and overbuilt country cannot handle a further construction of this manner.

This is not merely a case of ‘accepting reality’. It is about respect. Hobbies are fine, but when they impinge on the quality of life of others, then we should reconsider the options. I trust that in due course this matter will be put to rest, and agricultural land and that evermore precious luxury – silence – be preserved for current AND future generations to enjoy.

 

John Paul is an environmental health specialist with a medical background who holds the environment at heart. He is currently employed within the NGO sector and actively seeks to promote sustainable development while also addressing the disharmony between human civilization and the Earth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *