January 11 2004
For the sake of the temples
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.