Following its recently launched policy for building outside the development zones, the government has now issued its draft regulations on high buildings, known as the Floor Area Ratio policy. With its drive for land reclamation and the promotion of so-called ‘landmark’ high-rise buildings, the government’s vision for Malta appears to be based on the urban landscape of Dubai, says environment and heritage watchdog Din l-Art Helwa.

In the last few months the government has incessantly promoted initiatives to increase and facilitate development everywhere, but not a single initiative to protect our environment from over-development has been put forward. So far, says Din l-Art Helwa, the government’s environmental credentials are non-existent.

The draft policy guidelines for buildings in ODZ are an attempt to justify construction in rural areas. Instead of safeguarding the countryside, the government is actively seeking all possible ways to exploit it.  Following in its heels, the draft policy for tall buildings published yesterday has the potential to completely transform Malta’s urban landscape.

The NGO stated that it would have been more appropriate for the government to set up a ‘ministry for Over Development’ rather than a ‘ministry for Sustainable Development’ as regulations will encourage more building rather than balance it,  exacerbate congestion in built up areas and take further urbanisation into rural areas.   The FAR policy and ODZ policy are just two of numerous regulations being launched that ride roughshod over the current structure plan and with no social and environmental impact assessments that should accompany a new one.

Din l-Art Helwa finds government’s haste to promote such policies unacceptable and calls on government to refrain from their promotion.   The NGO urges all members of the public who have the environment at heart to join Din l-Art Helwa and other environment NGOs at the Protest March in favour of the Environment which is to take place at 10.30 am on Saturday 30th November starting at City Gate, Valletta.