Times of Malta, 20 May 2008 – Speaking in Parliament yesterday during the debate in reply to the President’s speech at the state opening of Parliament, Minister George Pullicino said the speech had brought out an item of priority in the government’s agenda: The efforts for the environment.

More than €330 million were being earmarked for environmental projects, both in the way of protection and development, as well as alternative energy and clean energy.

The methods used by Malta to produce energy were badly affecting not only the environment but the national purse. The goal to derive 10 per cent of the national energy needs from clean sources and cut down 20 per cent of present carbon dioxide emissions was not an easy one to achieve.

Wind farms could not be accommodated on land, and it was unfeasible to have all of Malta’s energy needs from them. The ultimate goal was to reduce present CO2 emissions by 43 per cent.

The government was intent on introducing schemes to produce cleaner energy on both domestic and national levels, with €3 million earmarked for the purpose. Another goal was to have Maltese buildings eventually certified for their energy-saving properties.

It was also important to carefully monitor the construction industry’s pollution factor, not just for the environment but also for the social respect of neighbours. Plans were also in hand for better management of floodwaters. The water table should be managed better, even through better education.

The Works Division’s principal efforts would be to better manage storm-water effluent, thanks to EU Structural Funds. Another priority would be to enhance public spaces in towns and villages.

The third priority would be the restoration of important landmarks, particularly Buskett, the Salini, the Addolorata Cemetery and touristic zones such as Buġibba, St Paul’s Bay, Paceville, Sliema and Marsascala.

Importance would also be attached to fast maintenance where the lack of it could endanger life and limb.

Magħtab and Kortin would continue to be turned into national parks. Malta must invest in other waste management facilities, especially waste-to-energy. More initiatives would be taken in the collection of waste.

After the initial 25 tonnes of separated waste collected from homes in the first week, this had subsequently gone up to 80 tonnes.

Mr Pullicino said work would be started on an animal welfare project. Funds were being allocated to the neutering and micro-chipping of stray animals over the next few years, and there would eventually be a care centre at Ta’ Qali.

On agriculture, he said the restructuring of the sector would continue with the ultimate goal of managing solid and liquid waste generated in farms.

Over the next months work would be undertaken at cattle farms in Malta and Gozo in this direction.

The pig farm at Comino would be closed down after related projects would have been consolidated.

The aquaculture research centre at Marsaxlokk would continue to operate.

Malta’s first enotheque would be a showpiece of Maltese viticulture.