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‘No Half-Baked Measures’: De-Commercialise Blue Lagoon Say NGOs

'No Half-Baked Measures': De-Commercialise Blue Lagoon Say NGOs
Sep 15 2023 Share

A broad coalition of NGOs and citizens are reiterating their demand to curb the excessive commercial activity at the Blue Lagoon in order to address the current unsustainable situation on Comino. 

“Intense commercial activity linked to mass tourism is leading to rapid environmental degradation of this Natura 2000 site and hindering the public’s enjoyment of this unique island reserve.

Among the demands put forward last summer during protests which garnered mass public support, the organisations called for the ban of large commercial sightseeing boats carrying tourists, which transform the Blue Lagoon into a congested, litter-infested, space in a matter of minutes.

Moreover, it is of great concern that Government has been steadfastly refusing to publish the results of the carrying capacity study for Comino and the Blue Lagoon, already commissioned by ERA.

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo recently claimed that a carrying capacity study for the Blue Lagoon cannot be carried out before considering this summer’s changes to the management of the area, which indicates that Minister Bartolo does not understand what a carrying capacity study is. Since the island’s management plan was published, the daily number of visitors to the Blue Lagoon has increased, not decreased, from 5000 a day in 2016 to a staggering 8000 a day this summer. We demand that the results of the commissioned carrying capacity study are published so that the public may see what the authorities should actually be doing to properly manage tourism on Comino.

We can celebrate that the public pressure exerted last summer successfully abolished deckchairs from the jetty and beach, reduced the number of allowed deckchairs overall, and improved the waste collection. However, we stand by our claim that relocating a deckchair operator to an area not previously exploited for this purpose is unacceptable and cannot be in line with Comino’s management plan as a Natura 2000 site. ERA and Environment Minister Miriam Dalli have remained shamefully silent regarding such failures on their watch.

The organisations also remind Ministers Bartolo and Dalli that the number of deckchairs was not the only demand put forward last year. Indeed, the number of kiosks at the Blue Lagoon have also shot up, with as many as 11 different stalls running concurrently in the past years. The same can be said about the number of larger commercial vessels berthing at, and disembarking tourists on, the Blue Lagoon.”

The groups reiterate their demands to: 

  • Prohibit large boats carrying hundreds of tourists to Comino;
  • Drastically reduce the number and size of kiosks;
  • Abolish all music from kiosks and boats and loud generators;
  • Control all commercial activity around the Blue Lagoon to operate on the basis of permits, with strict rules regarding permitted activities and waste management.

The organisations behind the joint statement are Birdlife Malta, Din l-Art Helwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Għawdix, Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta – FEE and Ramblers Association Malta. 

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LGBTI+ Gozo & KNŻ Condemn Homophobic Pride March Attack

LGBTI+ Gozo & KNŻ Condemn Homophobic Pride March Attack
Sep 15 2023 Share

LGBTI+ Gozo and Kunsill Nazzjonali Żgħażagħ condemned the attacks that occurred during Gozo’s Pride March after a group of queer individuals were targeted at a local bar. One of the individuals was physically assaulted, prompting the response of various organisations and individuals. 

LGBTI+ Gozo wrote that they are deeply distressed to hear about the community. 

‘This incident shows us that Pride is needed now more than ever and that there are still people in our community who do not believe that queer people have a right to exist in our society. In response to this act of violence, we have composed a press release, supported and endorsed by LGBTI+ and non-LGBTI+ NGOs in Malta and Gozo, openly condemning hate crimes against LGBTI+ persons.’

‘Our love and support go out to the victim of this attack and the witnesses, and for all LGBTI+ people who have experienced violence and agression for being themselves. We urge all people, regardless of orientation, to condemn homophobia and transphobia, and to take action against violence towards our community.’

Kunsill Nazzjonali Żgħażagħ also echoed the condemnation, expressing their solidarity with LGBTI+ Gozo as well as the victims. 

Expressing ‘utter disappointment that queer persons continue to be subjected to these kinds of attacks’, KNŻ echoed LGBTI+ Gozo’s statement saying:

‘We also call on allies to stand with the queer community and analyse biases and heteronormative thinking.’ The condemnation was echoed by other groups including the Allied Rainbow Communities and Moviment Graffitti amongst others. 

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30 New Electric Buses To Add 410 New Trips Daily

30 New Electric Buses To Add 410 New Trips Daily
Sep 15 2023 Share

Malta Public Transport has unveiled a groundbreaking €20 million investment in electrifying its public transportation system. 

This initiative includes the introduction of 30 new, fully electric, zero-emission buses alongside the inauguration of the first electric bus charging depot. 

Felipe Cosman, Chairman of Malta Public Transport, emphasised the importance of this move towards sustainable transport during the official launch.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Aaron Farrugia echoed support for this endeavour, highlighting the government’s commitment to alternative transport. 

This investment aims to enhance service frequencies on vital routes, reducing wait times and providing more available space on buses. It also aligns with the goal of reducing traffic congestion and pollution by promoting sustainable transportation options.

The new 12-meter King Long Amigo electric buses come with modern amenities, including accessibility features, air conditioning, USB chargers, and free Wi-Fi, providing a more comfortable ride for passengers. Equipped with advanced battery technology, these buses can cover up to 300 kilometres on a single charge. 

Charging can be done overnight, ensuring uninterrupted service.

This transition to electric buses will significantly reduce emissions, with an estimated 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a cut in noise pollution. It is projected to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 1,800 tonnes per year compared to diesel buses.

The charging stations offer a wide power range, thanks to a unique two-socket solution, and the 3MW charging system can service up to 30 buses simultaneously, a pioneering effort in Malta. 

This initiative builds upon Malta Public Transport’s earlier foray into electrification in January 2020 with the pilot of an electric bus, followed by the introduction of two fully-electric 12-meter buses last year. Additionally, the company is testing an electric minibus for use on low-demand routes and in village cores.

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Celebrity Chef Gino D’Acampo Teases Malta Visit from Iconic Mercury Towers

Celebrity Chef Gino D'Acampo Teases Malta Visit from Iconic Mercury Towers
Sep 14 2023 Share

Renowned celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo has just sent shockwaves through the world of social media by posting a mysterious video on TikTok and Instagram.

 

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A post shared by Gino D’Acampo (@iamginodacampo)

In this intriguing clip, he found himself at the iconic Mercury Towers in St. Julians, which is nearing their long-anticipated completion, donning a high-visibility vest and a construction protective helmet.

Gino D’Acampo described Malta as an “amazing island”, as he added an element of suspense by asking his massive following a crucial question: “What do you think I’m visiting the Mercury Towers for?” His cheeky grin and playful tone left fans speculating and buzzing with excitement. Could it be that Gino D’Acampo has something extraordinary planned for the Maltese culinary scene?

Gino D’Acampo is no stranger to the world of gastronomy and entertainment. Born in Italy, his passion for food was ignited at a young age, and he honed his culinary skills in some of the finest restaurants across the UK.

He quickly became a household name through his television appearances, cookbooks, and restaurants. Gino’s charisma, boundless energy, and love for authentic Italian cuisine have earned him a dedicated fanbase worldwide.

Could Malta be the Next Culinary Destination?

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