6th December 2013
Din l-Art Helwa has submitted its comments on the Draft ODZ policy and design guidance which was issued for public consultation by MEPA.
Din l-Art Helwa notes that this important planning document has been put forward in an information vacuum, without any supporting studies and assessments. This is an example of piecemeal planning without any strategic or long-term vision whatsoever. The main emphasis of this document is clearly on establishing ways to permit construction in ODZ areas, and not the protection of the countryside.
The ODZ policy should be shelved until further information and studies on the current situation and requirements in the countryside are put forward for evaluation and discussion. Without this assessment, the entire document is premature and superficial.
The proposed ODZ policy makes absolutely no attempt to ensure that development is sustainable. The idea of sustainability is hardly even mentioned, let alone assessed, throughout the entire document.
Din l-Art Helwa contends that the ODZ policy must safeguard and protect the rural environment as a precious resource, and counteract the urban sprawl into the countryside. More emphasis must be placed on the protection of rural landscapes, ecosystems and biodiversity. Malta’s ODZ policy should highlight the conservation and restoration of all natural habitats in the countryside, and safeguard them against pressures from development.
Din l-Art Helwa’s comments can be viewed on the organisation’s website www.dinlarthelwa.org