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Letters • January 11 2004

For the sake of the temples

Ms Alison Beaumont

I am a Canadian who loves Malta. I have visited three times, the last in September 2003 to attend the conference on the pre-historic temples sponsored by the Old Temple Study Foundation, and I intend to visit again soon. I find Malta beautiful and comfortable, its people friendly and helpful, and its culture and history inspiring. I am very grateful that the Maltese government has made many of the islands’ historic sites available to visitors and in such in attractive way.
I write now, however, out of my regard for the pre-historic temples. I wish to add my voice to those numbering among the thousands, I understand, who are expressing deep concern about the possibility of using a nearby quarry in the area of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra as a rubbish landfill. I am aware of and applaud wholeheartedly the government’s plan to design protective shelters but remain concerned about the effect of a landfill so very close to the temples.
As UNESCO-designated World Heritage sites, Hagar Qim and Mnajdra deserve the utmost in protection, preservation and responsible management. The transporting and dumping of waste material near these two precious sites jeopardize their survival in at least two ways: first, the actual repeated transporting and unloading of large volumes of material over a two-year period threaten the very stability of the megaliths; secondly, in the absence of a system of effective waste separation, the integrity of the soil and eventually of the megaliths themselves is at risk.
The government of Malta must consider alternatives to this proposed initiative for waste disposal. There is no doubt an appropriate solution is a challenge in a country as small as Malta but the outstanding universal value of the temples must be honoured for our sake and our children’s sake and infinitum.
I am concerned as well about the conflict between the Maltese hunters and those who cherish and wish to visit the temples, two groups with very different interests, who share the same neighbouring pieces of land. I understand that the shooting of migrating birds has been legislated against but that the practice continues nonetheless. I am aware of an instance in which hunters are alleged to have threatened visitors to the temples, believing them to be interfering with successful hunting. For the sake of the temples and the long view of what is valuable to humankind, I ask that the government of Malta also address and resolve this very difficult matter.


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