Press Release – Tuesday 16 June, 2015

During yesterday’s appeal by 21 NGOs to the general public to attend the rally in favour of the environment on Saturday 20th June, Simone Mizzi, Din l-Art Helwa President, said the issue of Zonqor Point is a symptom of a much deeper disorder that is set to decrease the protection afforded to out of development zones if the redrafted structure plan (SPED) is approved in Parliament. ‘ ‘Instead of closing loopholes, to use the words of government itself, the proposed redraft is intended to increase them leaving the road wide open for development in out of development zones’, said Ms Mizzi. ‘The aim of a robust Structure plan is to define the use of space and therefore of land for the nation for several years. An honourable government will ensure it has been drafted responsibly to protect land which is our most important resource. ‘ However,’ said Ms Mizzi, ‘the opposite is set to take place if the latest draft of this all important national policy is approved in Parliament’

Ms Mizzi explained that the new draft has been written in such a way so projects that are deemed to be ‘unfeasible’ within urban areas can be built in out of development zones where land is cheaper and much more accessible, such as in the case of Zonqor Point. Also of great concern to the NGO is that projects that are deemed to be of a ‘sustainable’ nature are similarly to be permitted in out of development zones. ‘The criteria of sustainability’, said Ms Mizzi, ‘is a very broad one which cannot easily be defined. Sustainability of development can be applied to most projects, making it legal for all sorts of construction to take place in ODZ, including rural and coastal areas which are so sought after by developers for easy and quick gain’.

The NGO demands yet again that the clauses allowing projects to take place in ODZ simply because they may be deemed unfeasible in urban zones and permitting projects that favour sustainability to be taken out of the redrafted structure plan. These loosely applied terms go totally against the spirit of the legislation which is to give clear, precise and well defined direction to the nation on the use of space over the next decade. The words ‘feasibility’ and ‘sustainability’ should be struck off, or else be clearly defined. To do this the Structure Plan should go back to the drawing board to be rewritten as the serious document it is intended to be, and include detailed plans and policies for every area of the Maltese islands. The Prime Minister promised protection for the environment in the 2013 general elections manifesto, yet Zonqor Point is yet further evidence that show his intentions are the complete opposite,’ said Ms Mizzi. In the meantime, the NGO has proposed a moratorium on all large scale and institutional construction projects till the Structure Plan (SPED) can be correctly defined.

Ms Mizzi appealed to all lovers of the environment to participate in the rally being organised by Front Harsien ODZ and to join the 21 NGOs in their call to citizen action which starts at the new Parliament in Valletta at 10 a.m. on Saturday 20th June.