Times of Malta, 16 July 2008

Extract from Times of Malta report on Parliamentary sitting of 15 July 2008

Labour MP Leo Brincat described Mepa as a three headed monster, with its gods, political appointees and directly-appointed civil servants on its board. He called for a suitable balance which led to sustainable development, pointing out that the silent majority in Malta favoured the environment.

He criticised Mepa for continuing talks with developers even when these deviated from the original plans. A case in point was the approval of a rabbit farm on an outside development zone of hydrological importance five days before the election.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister was allowing situation to prevail, and Ramla was again facing possible development, nine months after the permit had been withdrawn. There were also the cases of Spin Valley at Mistra and the Safi supermarket.

The environmental organisation Din l-Art Ħelwa pointed out that the way the Mistra village application had been treated showed inconsistency in policy making.

Mr Brincat said that everyone agreed with the dream of Gozo becoming an environmental island. It was positive that this government had placed the environment as a priority of the administration and this was also on top of the agenda of the new MLP leader.

But the government had a track record of lack of good governance and there were matters which were difficult to prove but which smelled horrendous.

What happened during the debate on the Fort Cambridge project was one such example. The media had been treated very badly during this hearing just for doing their duty. Mr Brincat clarified that he was not saying that all development should stop but sustainable development should not remain just a buzz word.

There could not be good governance with authorities like Mepa which used two weights and two measures being strong with the weak and weak with the strong. It used dubious way in the issuing of certain permits especially in the run-up to the election. New structures, new mechanisms and a new mentality were required to show that the reform was real.

Mr Brincat said that, for the people to take Mepa seriously, the Prime Minister had to take concrete steps and implement a reform which should lead to accountability and transparency in as short a time as possible.

He warned that there could not be good governance when the authorities did not enforce EU laws the country was obliged to follow. The time had come, he said, for a regular parliamentary scrutiny of the operational effectiveness of Mepa, including of the report drawn up by its own auditor.