Press Release – 24 May 2013

Din l-Art Helwa refers to the ‘Height Limitation Adjustment Policy for Hotels in Tourism Areas’, announced by Parliamentary Secretary Michael Farrugia and Minister Karmenu Vella.

Din l-Art Helwa is disappointed that, following consultation meetings with MEPA in 2012, it appears that this policy has now been revised and approved without the government having carried out the impact assessment that was recommended at the time. If such a study has been carried out, then Din l-Art Helwa requests that it is published.

The organisation has stated that while it appreciates the importance of tourism to the economy and to the provision of employment, the policy does not strive to strike the right balance between the quality of our environment and the generation of revenue as should be the responsibility of MEPA, and that this proposal has now been rushed through without serious analysis or EIAs to justify its revision.

Apart from this consideration which called for further studies, the proposed relaxation on height limitation will be deleterious to the environment by causing excessive visual density together with further overburdening of the infrastructure, not to mention the negative effects of creating yet more construction sites in touristic/residential areas for a number of years.

Another grave concern registered by the NGO is that this policy brought about a situation of two weights and two measures: for the hoteliers, on the one hand, who will have the privilege of building two additional storeys, as opposed to other local businesses or home owners, who, on the other, are not granted the same privilege.  Din l-Art Helwa feels this will create precedence for further granting of permits to the two latter groups in the future.  ‘It is now’ said DLH, ‘that the permitted over-all building height for the future needs to be addressed, together with serious planning for the subsequent loss of light, over development, and the inevitable loss of quality life and visual environment resulting to both home owners and visitors’.