Letters to the Malta Independent, 27. January 2002
And the ALE were dispatched somewhere else
The Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) Unit of the police are a busy lot - their jurisdiction spans a whole gamut of environmental infringements including hunting, cruelty to animals and the illegal removal of topsoil. To counter such offences, such a unit must rely on meagre human resources and equipment. As if their task was not already daunting enough, members of such a unit are repeatedly given other duties not related to environmental laws. The discrepancy has become so great that the phrase "and the ALE were dispatched somewhere else" has become a convenient smokescreen.
Fines meted out by traffic wardens (lets not mince words) are resulting in a lucrative business, leaving no doubt that the project is viable enough to ensure its survival. This comes as no surprise keeping in mind the swashbuckling ways in which Maltese drivers behave on the roads. Having said this, what is keeping the authorities from putting pen to paper and start discussing the institution of green wardens? Surely its not financial acumen, as our rural areas abound with eyesores and our headlines are riddled with massacres such as the Swan Lake one? Surely its not a lack of manpower as the ranks of ministries such as the environment one are swelled to the point that dozens are dispatched to cut down wayside half-inch-long weeds?
Although the Swan Lake incident created much hype, much more subtle environmental degradation is going on all the time in our islands, such as the desecration of garigue to build roads leading to hunting shelters (dura), the dumping of rubble on pristine landscapes (as at Bahar ic-Caghaq), the capture of protected fauna (such as the freshwater crab), the felling of trees (such as at Kalkara), offroading on sand dunes (as at White Tower Bay) and a whole myriad more.
The relevant authorities should take stock of the mounting chorus of disenchantment from the public regarding enforcement of environmental laws by training some of the surplus multitudes answerable to the government, cladding them in green uniforms and dispatching them on a regular basis (not sporadic) to the hotspots of our island. If the need arises, such green wardens (who should never be dispatched alone) should be accompanied by some burly policeman as some trespassers are quite trigger-happy. Only in this way will the work-load of the PA be relieved since if illegal developments are nipped in the bud, there will be no need to demolish them later.
Nature Trust (Malta) reiterates its call for green wardens for the umpteenth time. Predictably, deaf ears will predominate as green wardens would probably bite into political tender flesh and so Swan Lake will be emulated over and over again. The stark truth is that we have premonitions that acts will be perpetrated (analogy with Hagar Qim disaster) and we dont act upon them! We will be the first NGO to commend the political force in Malta who has the courage to take concrete action on the matter.
Nature Trust PRO