Din l-Art Helwa Press Release 16.01.2010

Din l-Art Helwa welcomes the announcement of the long-awaited measures to implement a reform of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority.

Din l-Art Helwa agrees with the decision for development planning and environmental protection to be regulated under one authority. However it is vital that environmental protection is given far more weight in development planning than it has been given to date.

Din l-Art Helwa has repeatedly stated that, however many rules and regulations are in place, it is only good governance and accountability at board level that will ensure better results. The recent Ta’ Baldu report gives yet another grave example of a site which was assigned the highest level of protection by Mepa, and yet the board still chose to ignore all advice and forge ahead with the granting of permits. The current reform would still not safeguard against similar bad decisions, if the new Mepa boards do not prioritise the urgent need to protect our damaged environment.

These proposed measures include positive steps towards streamlining more efficient decision-making and reducing potential conflicts of interest at board level.

Din l-Art Helwa favours the creation of an enforcement directorate, as enforcement has long been a weakness at Mepa. Another encouraging step is the curtailing of the right to apply for the sanctioning of illegal developments in certain areas – this prohibition must be extended to as many areas as possible.

Din l-Art Helwa reiterates its position that areas outside the development zone must be strictly monitored for any attempts at illegal building, and that no new development should be permitted or sanctioned in these areas.