Category: Environment

pexels-catherine-sheila-2409022

Social factors enhancing the quality of waste separation

As the global population continues to grow and urbanization expands, the issue of waste management becomes increasingly pressing. To address this challenge effectively, it is vital to establish waste separation systems, foster circular economies, and promote material recycling to reduce the need for new production. Moving towards a more circular economy requires concerted efforts, collaboration, active public participation, and a genuine commitment to environmental stewardship.

In this endeavor, Regional and Local Councils, in partnership with the Central Government, play a pivotal role. Local Councils, being the authorities closest to the residents, should create ongoing platforms for engaging with the public. It is essential not only to convey the significance of individual involvement but also to highlight the environmental impact of responsible waste management. This is an integral part of the civic and social responsibility that each of us holds towards future generations. Furthermore, effective waste separation systems are only meaningful if the government provides efficient infrastructure and diverse waste management options that empower residents to manage their waste effectively.

It is crucial to emphasize that waste generators should have a say in how their waste is disposed of. This responsibility lies with the Councils, as they are tasked with conveying this message to the residents. Providing informative and educational materials is essential, and offering alternative waste disposal options tailored to individual needs is equally critical.

Let’s delve into the proposal put forth by the Local Councils Association, referred to as “collection points.” What are these “collection points”?

A “collection point” is a specifically designated area equipped with colour-coded bins to match the garbage bags commonly used for waste disposal, namely the black, green, and white bags. These bins may also feature compartments for paper and metal disposal. Furthermore, there are cases where distinct “bring-in-sites” are established, a concept I will explain in more detail.

The key distinction lies in the fact that “collection points” are linked to specific streets, and residents living on those streets are granted access to the bins through personalized cards. These bins should be within a reasonable distance, not exceeding 200-300 meters from residents’ homes. Residents on these streets can access the bins at their convenience, without time restrictions. For instance, if the black bin is collected twice a week, residents can access the black bin twice a week, and similarly for the white bin collected thrice a week.

These sites should also be equipped with technology that allows the Council to collect data, including the bin fill levels, residents’ usage patterns, and when bins need to be emptied.

This data is invaluable, as it enables the Council to identify cases where a resident may be exclusively using the black bin, indicating a lack of waste separation. Conversely, when all bins are utilized in proportion to waste generation, it suggests that waste separation is effective. This data also helps Councils identify areas where additional awareness campaigns and enforcement may be necessary. It can also assist residents who, for various reasons, cannot adhere to the designated waste collection times set by the Council, ensuring fair and flexible waste management. In a system and structure like this, it’s difficult to claim unfair treatment when facing penalties for improper waste disposal because there are ample alternatives available, leaving no room for excuses regarding adherence to the prescribed waste collection schedule or timing for each household.

Upon implementation, this approach offers further advantages. By securing agreements with residents, the Council can obtain approval for these specific streets or sections thereof, allowing for a staggered waste collection process rather than simultaneous pickups for all households. Consequently, this strategy mitigates traffic congestion, optimizes the usage of collection trucks on the road, and contributes to reduced emissions, as waste collection becomes notably more efficient. This adjustment should be considered once the system is operational and following consultations with the affected residents.

When this proposal was initially introduced in 2017 and subsequently revised and made more current in 2019, during that period (2017-2019), there were individuals who did not grasp the way this operates, and some were quick to assume that such a system could not be implemented in our country. Today, it appears that there are far fewer individuals unwilling to listen and evaluate.

Consequently, I maintain that it is imperative to grant Local Councils the opportunity to invest in such projects through dedicated financial allocation. This is of utmost importance as endeavors like these alleviate our streets from the disruptive noise of early morning waste collection and provide residents with enhanced mobility options for pedestrians. It is crucial not to underestimate the advantages this offers, as it reduces the inconveniences experienced and the unsightly sight of accumulating waste in neighbourhoods until the entire collection process is concluded.

I cannot claim that such a model is universally applicable, but it is essential to begin investigating potential opportunities where it is viable. A tangible illustration can be found in Gozo, where both locals and weekend visitors from Malta often vacate farmhouses, leaving black bags of waste they wish to dispose of a week later. Envision the possibility of establishing similar waste collection sites in coordination with the owners of these farmhouses or apartments. Locations like San Lawrenz, Gharb, and Ghasri could collaborate to invest in a shared facility, for instance.

Numerous opportunities and solutions exist. Ultimately, it hinges on people’s receptiveness and the financial support needed for the implementation of comparable initiatives by our Regional and Local Councils, which hold the responsibility for waste management.

 

 

Mario Fava
President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More
pexels-a-p-15085029

Addressing the Core of Energy Initiatives

Climate change and environmental degradation pose imminent threats to Europe and the global community. In response, the European Green Deal aims to transform the EU into a modern, resource-efficient, and competitive economy, with three primary objectives:

  1. Achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
  2. Decoupling economic growth from resource consumption.
  3. Ensuring that no one and no place is left behind.

The European Green Deal also plays a pivotal role in post-pandemic recovery, with nearly €1.8 trillion in investments from the NextGenerationEU Recovery Plan and the EU’s seven-year budget allocated to support this endeavor.

To address climate change and environmental concerns, the European Commission has introduced a series of legislative proposals aimed at aligning EU policies in climate, energy, transport, and taxation. These proposals target a reduction of at least 55% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Key Focus

Energy production and consumption contribute to over 75% of EU greenhouse gas emissions. Decarbonizing the EU’s energy system is a critical step in achieving the climate goals for 2030 and the long-term objective of carbon neutrality by 2050.

The European Green Deal focuses on three fundamental principles for the transition to clean energy, focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing the quality of life for citizens:

  1. Ensuring a secure and affordable energy supply in the EU.
  2. Developing a fully integrated, interconnected, and digitalized EU energy market.
  3. Prioritizing energy efficiency, enhancing building energy performance, and emphasizing renewable energy in the energy sector.

To realize these principles, the Commission has established key objectives, including:

  • Establishing interconnected and integrated energy systems and grids to support renewable energy sources.
  • Promoting innovative technologies and modern infrastructure.
  • Improving energy efficiency and eco-design of products.
  • Decarbonizing the gas sector and enhancing integration between sectors.
  • Providing support to consumers and Member States to address energy poverty.
  • Promoting EU energy standards and technologies on a global scale.
  • Maximizing the potential of offshore wind energy.

As of May 2022, REPowerEU is a critical initiative for the EU, serving the following key purposes:

  • Ensuring energy security.
  • Generating clean energy.
  • Diversifying the energy supply.

REPowerEU has played a crucial role in safeguarding EU citizens and businesses against energy shortages, supporting Ukraine by reducing reliance on Russian resources during the conflict, and accelerating the transition to clean energy. This collaborative effort continues to strengthen Europe’s preparedness and unity.

Through collective action, the EU has achieved significant milestones:

  • Reduced dependence on Russian fossil fuels.
  • Lowered energy consumption by nearly 20%.
  • Implemented maximum gas prices and a global oil price cap.
  • Doubled the use of renewable energy sources.
  • Diversified energy supplies.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia underscored the need for alternative energy supply solutions within the EU. Although some Member States historically relied more on Russian gas imports than others, the potential disruptions affected all collectively. Hence, all Member States cooperated to ensure gas sharing in times of need.

As of September 2022, Russian gas accounts for only 8% of all gas imports via pipelines to the EU, compared to 41% in August 2021.

With the REPowerEU plan, the EU successfully diversified its energy supply by:

  • Stabilizing agreements with other third countries for pipeline imports.
  • Investing in joint procurement of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
  • Establishing strategic partnerships with Namibia, Egypt, and Kazakhstan to secure a safe and sustainable supply of renewable hydrogen.
  • Signing agreements with Egypt and Israel for natural gas exports to Europe.

The infrastructure initially used for gas can now be adapted for clean hydrogen in the future. Today’s investment is an investment in decarbonizing the economy for the future.

 

 

Mario Fava
President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More
pexels-stephan-müller-753876

Guidelines on Parking Management

The Local Councils’ Association launched the Guidelines on Parking Management for Local and Regional Councils on May 31st 2023. The document is one in a series of documents on Sustainable Mobility and includes other important subjects such as: walkability, accessibility, shared transport, last mile transportation, and EV changeover.

This document centers on understanding further the parking issue and proposing strategies, in the form of steps, that could lead to potential solutions in the short-medium-long term.

These strategies must be understood and considered together with other complementing steps found within the other Sustainable documents mentioned above.

Send us your thoughts, opinions, recommendations or comments

 

Read More
Loyola-3

Public Consultation: Sustainable Public Transport and the re-introduction of Bus Lanes

The Local Councils’ Association is publishing this document in order to provide information on the subject of Sutainable Mobility and the means that could be of assistance in achieving the goal of sustainability. This document focuses on the re-introduction of bus lanes as a method of increasing transit speed and reliability hence this would decrease the amount of private vehicles on the road and also traffic congestion. 

Send us your thoughts, opinions, recommendations or comments

 

Read More
caravans_2.1

A crucial government decision – national political decision on the use of caravans

During the last days we have assisted to a very important decision taken by the central government towards the suspension of an application by Infrastructure Malta for a temporary caravan site despite the various comments on the rights and obligations of caravan owners. On the contrary one would also listen to various residents’ rights towards a free access to our beaches. Many are those caravan owners who during the summer period would occupy our beaches without leaving any foreshore access. For the general benefit and interest there should be various open discussions with different stakeholders the outcome of which could lead to better solutions in the interest of everybody.

 

Introduction

One needs to kick off from the point that not each locality has the benefit of open recreational spaces for its residents.  Moreover, there are a large number of families who live in apartments without an adequate balcony, yard or garden for their children to recreate themselves; therefore, the number of recreational zones is somehow imperative. We need to understand and take care of the social and recreative aspects of our residents; it transpires that a number of families can’t afford  a decent residence and would instead publicly occupy caravan sites, with the latter being their only shelter.

One has to exercise caution and adopt a wider approach to avoid conflicts amongst those with different priorities for the use of the same land including farmers.

Rural zones with lesser population, agricultural zones and natural resources are very scarce in Malta hence we should focus more on our priorities.

In order to avoid conflict, there should be a holistic plan in place when dealing with protected land, camping, hiking and picnic sites.  There needs to a clear distinction between open country spaces and coastal area spaces to avoid undue pressure on the latter.

This is considered to be a seasonal pressure; coastal areas might bear higher undue pressure during the summer months and could be the cause of conflict amongst those occupying the space with caravans and other residents who would visit the area for a couple of hours for recreational purposes. It would be unfair that the same individuals would hijack public zones and grounds for long periods.

One has to distinguish between structures that are trailer driven and electric camper vans.

 

Priorities

Undoubtedly, many believe that there has to be particular spaces allocated for this type of hobby. If this would be the case, there has to be an understanding of what is best for our country, especially for localities which are designated to host this recreational concept. Are we opting for smaller spaces in a larger number of sites or are we going for fewer but larger sites? Would we be seeking and understanding the impact this would have on the tourism industry? Are we seeing to the fact how these coastal sites could create conflict with the use of slipways not just because these would be obstructed, but also because of the additional issues of boat trailers’ owners who would want to take their boats to and from the sea through the boat ramps. Are we planning law enforcement?  This should be the point for a holistic discussion which the government has wisely decided upon.

Undoubtedly, smaller spaces scattered around the island create less impact than larger ones which are however fewer. This consideration is not just about the visual impact but also about the impact on the infrastructure, the overall upkeep, drainage system, water supply etc. I believe that in larger sites one needs to carry out an environmental impact assessment.  On the other hand, smaller sites scattered around the island are more difficult to be managed by the authorities.

 

The Local Council’s involvement

As like other matters happening in our localities, we have to understand the involvement of our Local Councils. It is a fact that caravan sites do create certain issues and very often police forces would need to be called in to take over situations which at times would go beyond control.

We, as a nation and society, are barely disciplined to protect the heritage that we own and which we are our bound to pass on to our future generations.

It is highly important that the Local Councils are to be involved in the making of such policies.  This is due to the fact that the Local Councils are the closest from all entities to the residents and their locality; elected members can easily understand the challenges of their residents since they reside with them round the clock. These situations are to be used to our advantage thus, because whatever is implemented can then be rarely opposed.

Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, Salini, Żonqor and Żejtun are some of the few challenging zones that come to mind. We have to carefully keep in mind other camping and picnic zones where in most of the situations one finds illegal structures that were meant to be temporary however ended up being permanent. These situations create conflict with the daily temporary users of the area.  This brings us back to the argument on the importance of law enforcement for the right balance of land usage.

 

Land permits and usage

One must clearly differentiate between temporary and short-term permits.  According to my current understanding, nowadays, there are only temporary permits without a clear indication of their expiry.  When considering a national policy will we be delving upon the issuance of daily, weekly or monthly permits? Should granted permits be automatically renewed following their expiry? Is it just that a caravan owner would leave his own car parked in the caravan space so that same would self-reserve his own space upon his return the following weekend? Is it fair that there isn’t better use of such public spaces with a fair chance of the same space being enjoyed by the public at large? Is it fair and just that some may choose to literally hijack the coastal area for the summer period leaving no proper access to the residents and hotel guests? Should there be an effective alternating system in the issue of permits, with a proper and organized waiting list for each indicated caravan site?

Each site has to be managed by an appointed site manager who will ensure that such abuse won’t happen. This role will be the communication link between the Local Council, the authorities and the caravan owners themselves. The latter should appoint an Administrator from amongst themselves for the sake of a faster and more efficient level of communication. I strongly believe that the Administrator and the site Manager can very efficiently coordinate a booking system that allocates booking slots and thus avoid over-crowding; this is beneficial both for the caravan owners and for the same site to be publicly enjoyed.

One should consider how this model could be jointly developed with the private sector where the government would appoint private companies to administer these sites.

I believe that these questions could stir a sound and interesting discussion for the proper identification of the most suitable mechanism for the running of similar sites.

 

New niche in the tourism industry

A holistic plan for this sector in the long run could create a new niche for the tourism industry. For this to be operationalised there needs to be a sight energy plan which should preferably be derived from clean and alternative sources, an infrastructure of rapid charging pillars, new drainage systems, water supply and other sanitary services including strong internet connections and other daily necessities for individuals to avoid unnecessary daily commuting.  It would be ideal should these camping sites be promoting local produce; this would give higher visibility and promotion to the local culture and traditions.  Such authentic promotion would give Maltese sites added advantage over European ones.

Should Malta be looking towards such concept we have to ensure a safe and sound transport connectivity between the airport, the caravan sites and Malta’s main attractions including Ċirkewwa, Valletta, Mdina and Kottonera.

These sites should bear sufficient information on pathways and rural cycling routes leading to certain areas of interest like Rabat, Dingli, Qrendi/Żurrieq, Siġġiewi/Għar Lapsi, Marsaxlokk/Tas-Silġ and others.

In such zones one could possibly consider the cultivation of fresh herbs for self-consumption.

All of these initiatives give our sites a local particular identity which would eventually attract tourists who would be specifically looking for these types of surroundings for their vacation.

 

Conclusion

These sites could provide a twofold experience to the tourists and local travellers; it’s either an unforgettable positive experience or otherwise a totally negative experience even to those who would not make use of such space.

Therefore, in each intervention one has to ensure that spaces which are designed to specifically cater for caravans should ensure higher standards of hygiene, protection of the environment, security and accessibility.

I believe that everyone should be given the opportunity to hobby caravan enthusiasts to be out and about, however this hobby has to be in conformity with the natural surroundings and those living in the area.

In all this there has to be total synergy and communication between the government entities and agencies for works to be carried out during the most appropriate periods. It would not make sense at all that structural works and sites identification are carried out during peak months when such sites would be high in demand and full of people as this could unnecessarily leave a negative impact.

I must say that political commitment coupled with proper planning and total synergy between all parties involved, towards this ever-growing sector could undoubtedly expand and generate public revenues.

 

 

Mario Fava
President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More
a2b24607-2680-4ee5-8d0c-56ba85a1aaf8

The Electric Scooters phenomenon and their challenges

Particularly during the last years, the use of electric scooters has considerably increased in the main European cities, undoubtedly with the aim and benefit of reducing air pollution, reduce traffic congestion and replace the use of private vehicles for short distances.

Despite of all the benefits, the introduction of electric scooters has also created various challenges in a number of cities where they operate. We have seen a number of operators who have introduced this new method of transport without prior consultation with the local authorities or the regulatory officials in terms of security.  This situation has created disagreement on the usage of public spaces, road security and traffic management.

The number of e scooters which have been introduced in various cities is dependent on the number of operators using the service.  If we had to give a random look to various European cities, we would find that a number of the e scooters vary from a couple of hundreds to thousands.  Hereunder are some examples.

Fleet size vs public spaces

As one could notice, there is a noticeable difference between one city and another.  The influx of these e scooters has come to a point where certain cities had to act and introduce an operational regulatory framework and Malta is no exception.  The infrastructure, the actual use of e scooters and the citizens’ attitude towards them are the key factors which make e scooters’ usage and regulatory enforcement somehow different from one city to the other.

The city of Budapest could be taken as an example of how diligently the e scooter process was introduced; the city adopted an initial scheme of 200 e scooters in a prominent zone in order to have first-hand information and data before actually legislating the regulatory process. This, has actually given them the chance to process in a factual way all the data gathered during this eight-week trial.  This trial period has put at the forefront the need for a mitigation process on issues related to public spaces, where these scooters could be used or not.  This led to structured discussions with the operator which alternatively led the public to seamlessly embrace this alternative way of transport.

 

During a study carried out during the last two years resulted that 16 out 19 cities which were under research identified common issues to Malta related to e scooters, namely:

  • the attitude of electric scooters’ users
  • parking spaces and the way e scooters are carelessly abandoned after use
  • driving speed

Certain cities had to introduce different measures for various zones including historical heritage sites, public parks and other touristic sites; this was intended to segregate other means of transport including those going on foot.  Besides, these measures also safeguarded historical sites and touristic zones from unpleasant situations where electric scooters are carelessly and haphazardly left along the way. Consequently, some cities have set up designated areas from where those using the e scooters could commence and eventually end their trip without leaving their scooter out and about on pavements or public gardens.  These regulatory measures also cater for tother challenges which so far have not been mentioned namely,

  • The use of e scooters on pavements
  • Lack of proper framework which addresses the same challenges
  • Wreck less driving
  • Damage to parked vehicles
  • Electric scooters’ drunken users
  • Multiple people riding same e scooter
  • Lack of suitable insurance cover
  • Abandoned e scooters (in puddles and rivers)

Scooting zones

It is somehow crucial that whenever possible there should be a segregation of the various means of available transport methods.  It does not make sense that e scooters are operated in pedestrian zones, foot paths or pavements; this takes on board the issue of speed when it comes to these scooters. A pedestrian walking at a speed of four kilometres per hour iwould be severely injured if he gets hit by a scooter with a speed of between 16 to 20 kilometres an hour.  This all depends on the individual’s stature because of a senior citizen is hit with that velocity he would surely end up dead since his body would not endure such impact.

Certain cities are turning to technology to try to reduce accidents and injuries among riders and pedestrians with the use of inbuilt e scooters sensors, the latter detecting impact and automatically reducing speed. In case of the lack of human intervention during the scooter’s operation the sensor would automatically stop the e scooter. This also applies to heavily pedestrianised areas, city squares and streets with heavy traffic flows.

Sanctions from certain sites or parks happen through geographical restrictions; this means that when a scooter reaches the designated zone it would automatically trigger the GPS and the latter would stop the scooter from entering that particular zone. This technical intervention does not require human resources to ensure its enforcement. As this cost onus is burdened by the operator the city would not incur extra expenses related to the deployment of human resources needed for this enforcement to take place.

Continuous dialogue

However, when putting aside the disadvantages, one could easily outline from a financial perspective a series of environmental benefits from this sustainable transport service. Those cities who reaped the maximum benefit of this alternative means of transport are those who managed to pool all the stakeholders for this initiative to successfully be implemented. This was done through continuous meetings amongst all those involved and the exchange of gathered data. This mechanism has brought together on the table a number of factors namely: public debates, operators who recognize their own responsibilities, the establishment of the maximum numbers of scooters per identified zone, the adoption of an open-minded approach and the ability for the modification of old habits along with total coordination with those involved.

Should a city ensure an efficient, safe and inclusive service it must take into consideration the number of required scooters needed to cater for that particular place. This planning is of utmost importance to the operators themselves since the granting of licences to a larger number of operators would be unhealthy to that same city if the latter could be well maintained with a reduced number of operators.

Therefore, it is crucial that the right mechanism should be in place to ensure:

  • What should be the maximum number of scooters and the capacity of each operator
  • The cost and validity period of each e scooter licence
  • Type of needed insurance cover
  • Proper structuring of people’s complaints
  • Operators’ obligations towards stipulated timeframes for complaints’ replies
  • A round the clock point of contact for any assistance needed by the Municipality or the respective locality council
  • A penalty structure mechanism in place which incorporates an implementation and fee collection process

The social impact

From a social perspective, this industry which is somehow ever growing needs to have a recruitment framework.  These operators would need to employ a number of back office and on the ground employees to assist in the handling of these scooters along with the necessary repairs from time to time. Hence, there needs to be a regulatory framework in place to ensure that these employees won’t be legally abused. What comes to mind are the employees within the food delivery sector who definitely do not have the best of employment conditions; one has to ensure that no sector would ever adopt such practices.

Such monitoring is carried out by various cities and its findings are usually discussed in various meetings which are regularly held between the stakeholders and the operators themselves.

The environmental impact

E scooters usage definitely carries out as a direct or indirect environmental impact which could be significant without the correct measures.   Studies which have been caried out highlight the direct impact these could have on the environment through their regular usage, rental life span, the process and practices of how these e scooters are handled by the operator and the production material used and their weight.

Further studies which have been carried out show the impact e scooter rentals had on others methods of transport. One clear example is Brussels where e scooters replaced 26% of private vehicles, 29.2%of public transport trips and 40% of bicycle and pedestrian journeys.

By swapping the use of private vehicles and public transport usage to e scooter usage, the latter also removed the health benefits that come from walking or cycling these journeys.

Hence, certain cities are encouraging e scooter operators to focus on the impact reduction these scooters could have in these central areas. This is achieved by the operators themselves considering the purchase of scooters with a longer operative lifespan, invest in proper vehicles which handle e scooter collection and distribution in these zones and ensure that their fleet is made up of e scooters made of recyclable material while ensuring that the scooters are equipped with higher capacity and long-lasting batteries which require minimal charging time and have zero emissions.  All of these factors would place the operator in an advantageous position to incur a preferential licence fee since he would be positively contributing towards the environment.

Street security

According to researched data, e scooters pose higher risks to street security with accident rate for e scooters being nearly seven times higher than bicycles; this situation poses a higher administrative burden on the administration team of the Local Councils.

Many cities have very clear established safeguards and guidelines for whoever wants to operate this kind of transportation.  These should factor in reduced impact on traffic accidents, the prohibition of drink riding, smoking, and eating as all of these collectively allow the passenger to be fully focused.

In this contest, during a study which was carried out in the capital city of Denmark showed how 36% of those involved in accidents were under the influence of either alcohol or drugs with one third of the incidents happening between 11o’clock at night and 7 in the morning.  This factor could lead to the suspension of service in certain zones and between certain periods.

One is good to know that the results of this study showed that nearly 9% of those involved in these incidents were pedestrians, three quarters of which were vulnerable members aged from new born to 14 years, sixty-year-old citizens and older.  A collection of similar data could help the adoption of certain measures for

  • Educational campaigns carried out for specific age groups
  • Minimum age for driving scooters depending on zones and time being driven
  • Limitation of one person per scooter
  • Obligatory use of helmets
  • Calls for e scooter riders to be banned from using their mobile phones while driving
  • Access rates to be analysed based on distance rather than time

All of this clearly shows the importance of a constant dialogue between all stakeholders for such measures to be equally supported by all parties and be implemented in the fastest and most efficient manner.

Infrastructure

Undoubtedly, the most important factor in all this remains the infrastructure.  After the pandemic crisis the want for more open public spaces and pedestrian zones has increased.  For a couple of months during the pandemic we have witnessed public squares and streets completely empty from vehicles where everyone had the chance to enjoy whatever previously could not be much appreciated.

From an infrastructure perspective we have to keep in mind that these e scooters have different characteristics from those related to vehicles.  Electric scooters with small wheels are less comfortable to ride since smaller wheels tend to dip into potholes and unlevelled road surfaces, thus the impact is much stronger than a vehicle.

On the other hand their use on pavements is quite chaotic.  Hence it is crucial that an adequate infrastructure for this relatively new means of transport which does not only see the need for the proper segregation of routes but also a smoother surface and more e scooter usage friendly systems. It is thus of utmost importance that e scooters would be equipped with a good GPS system so that when the approach pedestrian areas they would automatically reduce speed.

Parking spaces for e scooters is another crucial aspect of the infrastructure. Like many other countries it is imperative that every so often one would find allocated spaces where these e scooters would be parked and charged in an organised manner; contrary to this we experience scattered e scooters haphazardly left around.

Universal docking and charging stations which would function and cater for all major electric scooters are of primary importance as these would create aesthetic soreness while they unnecessarily occupy public land.

What our country is going through

Way back in 2018 we have started experiencing an increase in this mode of transport which kept on increasing in 2019; during September of the same year the Transport Authority has called for a consultation process to better regulate the usage of electric scooters.

We have always believed and documented that despite the usage of the electric scooters requires less effort than driving a bike and make use of public transport, their usage will somehow has an impact on other residents.  It would impact the residents’ quality of life when it comes to the use of public and open spaces and when one considers the access to open spaces for persons with special needs.

We believed and anticipated that electric scooters usage will continue to destroy the few remaining open spaces and walking zones within our villages. Since their usage was not allowed in tunnels and main roads has thus purely left their usage in local areas. That is the reason why we insisted on deeper discussions with the Association of Local Councils and the Local Councils themselves to ensure that was written earlier and what was happening beyond our shores could likewise be applied to our country.

The infrastructure investment which occurred in Malta and which was long overdue was mainly concentrated on the use of vehicles; this has increased the need to work more on alternative transport methods with a longer vision.  Consequently, that is why the use of electric scooters on pavements should never be the subject for discussion.  Walking should remain the most sustainable way of transportation and should we keep on taking over the little available spaces left it would leave us no further walking space; indirectly we would be encouraging our residents to keep on making use of their private vehicles.

The dedicated use of segregated parking spaces for bikes and scooters is the most efficient manner on how this alternative transport method is utilized.

One has to differentiate between the private and commercial use of these electric scooters

One might ask:

  • Should an individual making private use of electric scooters pay the same licence fee similar to companies occupying public space? Private e scooters users would usually store their electric scooter either at home or at their place of work upon arriving at their respective destination and thus occupy no public space; hence shouldn’t these private users be incentivized for not creating an inconvenience? Whereas private users would be storing their scooter in their own property commercial operators would be using limited public spaces.
  • If electric scooters usage is designated to local streets and areas, shouldn’t Local Councils be the owners of these licences who would then decide on the quantity of issued licences pertaining to and in line with the rules and regulations of their respective locality.
  • Should there be an accessible data base for these electric scooters with information related to where they are being mostly used and their frequency?
  • Should the Local Council have the necessary authority to retrieve the licence of any operator if the latter would not abide by its obligations?
  • Should there be a screening process prior to the operative licence renewal of how coherent was the operator in line with its obligations, what accidents were caused and what was customers’ overall behaviour (thus why it is necessary that the operator should have the authority to charge his customers on negligence)
  • Should the operating licence fluctuate in line with the expense needed for better enforcement?
  • Should there be a revision of the age limit for electric scooter usage?

These and other questions are to be the basis for discussion following the three-year period following the introduction of the National policy.  Following lessons learnt, the time has come for a more mature and open discussion.  We would now be in a position to update and improve our framework in this sector while minimizing the challenges.

An improved and structured regulatory framework would be beneficial not just for the residents but most of all to the environment, traffic management and the operators themselves.

Mario Fava
President

 

 

 

 

Read More
how-to-segregate-waste-

Why do we separate our waste?

When we think to get rid of the various objects or materials that we no longer need, it is very important that these are intelligently separated.  Many are those who still can’t understand the importance of the concept of this process and ask ‘Why do we need to separate our wastes’?

The reply is quite simple; the waste that is generated and not wisely separated ends up in our landfills which our country no longer has space for.  This is something that we have to take care of as long as we don’t want to end up with the remaining agricultural land that we have be taken up to store tons of waste which could easily be used as a resource. One must also mention the fact how tons of untreated waste in our landfills would, during the decomposition process release toxic gases over the years.  These gases are by far more dangerous than those emitted from our vehicles. One must understand that this is a main cause of climate change, the effect of which we are presently experiencing.

If we are to properly understand which waste could be recycled and thus increase the recycling process according to the product waste- stream, we would ensure that our generation and that of our children would have the possibility to live a decent life on this planet on which our existence is somehow very limited. Many would argue ‘What difference would I make if I recycle my own little bit?’ If we all decide to reason in this manner then nobody would make an effort to increase the dose of the present recycling quantity.

It seems that Maltese citizens obey the law because otherwise they be punished.  Yes, there are a number of responsible individuals who would ensure that the waste generated by his own household would be properly recycled.  However, this recycling practice is still being carried out sporadically; this is mainly due to the fact that our country has not actually enforced waste separation.  Civil behaviour is practiced by the few.

If and when everybody makes an effort to instead of putting everything in one bag we start wisely separating plastic, paper, metal and other mixed waste, we would start seeing the effect of our efforts much faster.

Commenting upon the latest rumours that when the government would stop the schemes of giving away free of charge the green and grey bags, some will opt to stop recycling, I would say that this is sheer nonsense and a massive irresponsibility.

Whatever colour of the garbage bag we use, we normally consume one bag per day for our waste needs thus bringing the weekly consumption of bags per family up to six bags per family. Since we normally consume one bag per day, it does not actually make a difference whether we need to pay for our bags or whether they come free of charge. If the black bags come in a pack of twenty pieces, then this would last 4 weeks instead of 3 since on the other days we would be using different bags for different waste.

The Government has to intervene to ensure that our country acts more responsibly by enforcing a mandatory approach where each resident has to separate waste. This constitutes a long educational campaign followed by a strong framework, ample human resources within the Local Councils and full enforcement which gives waste separation total priority.  Competent authorities should avoid working in isolation and must pool in competent resources to ensure effective enforcement; this should be carried out hand in hand with the Local Councils who must ensure that they have ample staff to act against those who refuse to abide by the law.

The country cannot implement similar measures if abuse is not curbed however; we cannot prolong the waiting time to have some measures in place until the necessary enforcement is up and running. Our country cannot prolong this process; our people cannot just ignore this irresponsible behaviour

We are obliged to ensure that we offer the best possible services and opportunities to our residents to help them dispose of their waste in the best possible manner; the handholding period is now over.

The outcome and the consequences of the toing and froing of previous governments is well known. This is a reformist government who is not afraid to implement the necessary changes. This sector deserves its importance and priorities and should be at the forefront of the changes that need to take place.

We are faced with a problem or rather a challenge that if handled collectively could be changed in an opportunity.  The thought of carrying out future projects is interesting however we first have to tackle the basic matters. The most basic and the most important is that we ensure that our residents are geared up into the waste separation process in the most effective manner.

Let’s take the bull by the horn and proceed in the same direction without further delay. This process already forms part of the country’s waste management vision which we now need to implement.  Let us all understand that everyone’s little contribution towards this initiative is highly beneficial and that we have to ensure that our planet is passed on to our future generations in the best possible state.

We all state that our children are our most valuable asset however, if this statement is measured against how we actually take care of our waste management, I have my doubts on its relevance.

Let’s be part of this change together.

Mario Fava
President

 

Read More
298663995_373114408330690_4518300672851919157_n

Launch of a new scheme for local councils to implement sustainable projects

Minister for Environment, Energy and Enterprise Miriam Dalli announced an €800,000 scheme for local councils to implement sustainable projects in their communities.

This is the first time that local councils across Malta and Gozo can benefit from a scheme for sustainable development projects.

In a meeting held between Minister Miriam Dalli, the Director within the Directorate for Sustainable Development George Said, and the President of the Association for Local Councils Mario Fava emphasised the role of local councils as a catalyst to have more sustainable localities.

Minister Miriam Dalli explained that the main objective of this fund, administered by the Directorate for Sustainable Development, is to assist communities in the development of projects that promote sustainability in the various domains. In this way, we will be strengthening Malta’s progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“The vision for our country is that of a sustainable future, which we can achieve if we act together. The local councils are an integral part of this transition towards a more inclusive and environmentally healthy society”, said Minister Miriam Dalli.  Minister Dalli also stated that “Through the sustainable development goals, we want to ensure that we create opportunities for future generations in the three main areas of social, economic and environmental development.”

Local councils are encouraged to propose projects that further improve the quality of life of the residents and that contribute to the social, economic, and environmental wellbeing, such as improving accessibility, creating open spaces, green mobility projects, retrofitting of public buildings, and innovative waste management practices.

Local councils across Malta and Gozo are invited to apply for this scheme by submitting project proposals that can be implemented in the coming months. The best proposals will receive a grant equivalent to 85% of the actual cost of the project up to a maximum of €300,000.

Applications open today and must be submitted by Friday, 23 September 2022 until 12pm on sustainabledevelopment@gov.mt

The guidelines and application are available on the website: https://sustainabledevelopment.gov.mt/sustainable-localities-scheme/.

 

 

 

Read More
Electric Vehicle Public Infrastructure

LCA launches its first Good Practice Guide

The Association of Local Councils launched its first Good Practice Guide on Monday 13th September 2021 – Electric Vehicle Public Infrastructure. 

This document is one of the twenty-four documents the Local Councils’ Association, the assistance of several experts, is publishing under ‘ResidentFirst’, a multi-year project in partnership with the Local Councils.  ResidentFirst focuses on Sustainable mobility, Open Spaces, Smart Cities and Green Environments, further identifying how these pillars may improve the quality of life of our residents in their respective localities. 

Send us your thoughts, opinions, recommendations or comments

Read More
TFGX7664

Sustainable Transport

The means of transport we use are responsible for a quarter of the carbon emissions generated in the world. Carbon is a gas which contributes to climate change, and more than three quarters of it is generated on our roads. This means that the cars and trucks that we use every day to deliver our goods and to go from one place to another are leaving a significant negative impact on our air quality.  

It is estimated that the number of cars around the world is at around 1.3 billion, and this is anticipated to continue to rise to 2 billion by the year 2050. The same can be said for the demand in the transport of goods, which is expected to grow to three times current levels by the same year. 

Therefore, the challenge that we must address is how we are going to meet this demand for transport in the most sustainable way possible. Urban mobility is crucial in all of this. This is because, together, we need to find new solutions that will lead to a dramatic decrease in the impact of transport on the environment that we live in every day.     

If one had to carry out research on the transportation of goods in our towns, one would find that many vehicles very often have goods compartments that are not entirely full, or even have more empty space than used space. In addition, a lot of the time, these vehicles are stationary. Therefore, it is important that a serious study is done, together with all the relevant stakeholders, so that the potential of this method of transport is maximised, as well as to think of better ways in which goods can be transported, with less impact, and with more efficiency.

There are various things we can do as individuals to reduce this negative impact. We can start by avoiding the use of cars, where that is possible. This means becoming more accustomed to virtual meetings in our life, making more use of bikes and scooters, and even walking. Making more frequent use of public transport, or sharing a taxi ride with different people. If you had to take a look at the other vehicles sharing the road with you, or when stopping in traffic, more often than not you are unlikely to find more than one person in the car travelling alongside you. You will generally be hard pressed to find a car that has three or four persons in it. This results in a stuation where the average occupancy for each vehicle on our roads does not exceed one and a half passengers. This is very low when we all know that each vehicle can carry four people. With a bit of effort, and arrangements with colleagues, we can easily reduce two or three cars for each vehicle on the road.  

Another thing that we could do when travelling by car is to use smaller vehicles. Ones that consume less fuel, that have less emissions, and which help in reducing the amount of traffic on the roads. Obviously, we can go one step further and use hybrid cars or electric cars.

When it comes to online shopping, as consumers, we can choose to not opt for urgent or expedited shipping, and thus allow time for them to be delivered along with other products coming to the same destination. Certain online sellers offer the option of delivery to collection points, so that there is less risk of failed delivery when you are not home, and thus avoiding unnecessary extra trips. Decisions like these, although small, can also make a big difference. 

The use of alternative means of transport is sustainable in every way: good for our health and our pockets
Cleaner means of transport help to improve air quality in our localities.
Infrastructure for walking and cycling is crucial to encourage more people to make use of these sustainable means of transport and to reduce the impact of pollution in our localities.

Article by Mario Fava – President of the Local Councils’ Association

Read More
#thegov_button_667912f8a4cb9 { color: rgba(255,255,255,1); }#thegov_button_667912f8a4cb9:hover { color: rgba(255,255,255,1); }#thegov_button_667912f8a4cb9 { border-color: transparent; background-color: rgba(207,23,43,1); }#thegov_button_667912f8a4cb9:hover { border-color: transparent; background-color: rgba(97,162,26,1); }