It seems like nothing is ever tall enough to satisfy the construction industry. A good example of this is the latest proposal for a 40 floor building at Tigne. 40 storeys means this will almost be twice the height of Portomaso Business Tower in St. Julians.
One might ask why 40 storeys is too much, considering the area is already excessively urbanised and since it is one of those six localities were high rise buildings can be developed. In addition, the environmental impact on land will not be as bad as for instance the proposed development at Żonqor.
The first impression one might have is that the overall social, economic and environmental impacts do not tend to be negative. However, this project can lead to negative impacts.
The first issue we have here is that related to the infrastructure. As many might already know, Sliema is a tourist hotspot, it has a substantial number of residents, very few parking spaces and an excessive amount of traffic. Keeping in mind that when a 23 storey building was proposed in the area, the impact assessment of this project stated that traffic in this area would increase by some 27,000 cars. Imagine the impact a 40 storey tower will have on Sliema’s infrastructure. Residents in Sliema are already facing significant problems due to traffic. This project will make matters worse. In fact the Sliema local council already stated that unless a metro is created the project should be scrapped.
The second issue which results from development is the increased level of pollution. Pollution levels will not only increase due to increased traffic caused by this development, but also due to the building itself. The more high rise buildings are constructed, the more pollution will be trapped in the urban jungle. This will lead to significant health issues ranging from asthma to cancer.
The third issue is the financial problems which could arise through this development. The first thing that must be considered is who will pay for the metro that will have to be created. Increased traffic will lead to increased pollution, leading to increased health diseases, which in turn will lead to increased expenses for medication.
Additionally, the environmental impact statement of the proposed 23 storey tower showed that such high rise buildings will lead to shading of the seashore. This is problematic because people, particularly tourists, could eventually abandon such areas since they visit our island mainly due to the sunny weather we have. If for instance the project will lead to increased shading of a popular bathing area, people will abandon this place and go to another area. This will lead to more crowded areas elsewhere, which can lead to social and possibly also economic issues.
To conclude, such high rise projects should be well planned and evaluated before approved because they can lead to a very unsustainable outcome, ranging from environmental and economic effects to social and health issues. Therefore we from ADŻ Malta Green Youth strongly discourage this development.
Pascal Aloisio (ADŻ Malta Green Youth Executive Member)