The Maltese government has once again been embroiled in controversy following yet another dubious agreement, this time to grant access to both Ahrax and Mizieb to the hunting lobby, FKNK. This latest move has once again led to public outrage, as the common man in the street feels that an important part of the environment has been handed over to the hunters to keep them happy.
Two agreements have been signed a few days ago. The politicians involved in these agreements include the Transport Minister Ian Borg, Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri and Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and Construction Chris Agius.
The government highlighted that the agreement comes with its responsibilities, specifically targeted to the FKNK. This means that the lobby group will take responsibility for a number of factors including maintenance, cleanliness and upkeep of sites, together with health and safety. The FKNK will also be responsible for the appropriate and clear signage.
As part of its responsibilities, the FKNK will need to allocate specific areas for picnic and camping sites for the general public. It is also stated that access will need to be provided to conservation officials so that they can investigate if the law is being followed and to monitor against abuse and illegal hunting. A specific joint monitoring board will also be set up to ascertain that obligations are met.
One of the concerns which were raised is the fact that no indication was given that the deal was going to be signed. It appears that the media has not been called to attend a press conference in this regard. This is especially concerning when considering that such public places are some of the few areas left where the Maltese people can enjoy some greenery.
Activists for the environment, together with Mellieha councillors have expressed their dissatisfaction at the agreements signed, stating that the details were not made available for public scrutiny.
The recently elected leader of opposition Bernard Grech also had things to say about this agreement, referring to government arrogance which led to a secret signing. He also emphasised that the details of the agreement were made public once the deal was signed.
Bernard Grech emphasised that the agreement had to be scrutinised prior signature, with the relevant stakeholders going through it and providing their respective opinions on it. He also highlighted that it is shameful that land which belonged to the public was given away, for such a small price of four hundred Euro a year.