Press Release – 3rd November 2013

The new government has been in place for eight months, and so far the only direction for the environment seems to be to exploit and use it to the maximum, says Din l-Art Helwa.  There is an emerging scenario in which it is evident that it is now only the NGOs left to champion the environment, says Din l-Art Helwa.

Din l-Art Helwa notes that the Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Dr Leo Brincat, has been completely silent about the major plans and policies being put forward by the government which are likely to have a negative impact on the environment, such as the relaxation of building heights and the oncoming loss of rural land through the revised ODZ policy.  He still has also not ensured a strategic plan is in place before the local plans are revised or land reclamation proposals are considered begging the question this is waiting for new laws to be written so as to accommodate such new development.

Malta is a very small country, and sustainable land use is one of our biggest environmental problems, says Din l-Art Helwa, adding that the NGO has been flooded by reactions from an indignant public in the aftermath of the controversial MistraVillage permit which showed 5 Mepa Board members voting to consider altering the proposal and 9 against.   The NGO feels the country needs to know how the Minister intends to ensure that development is sustainable if no studies or overall strategy are in place before moving ahead with the massive plans and projects in the pipeline which will have a huge impact on the environment?

Another step in the right direction would be to establish a Design Review Committee  that would give guidance on quality and context, on proportion and use of materials, a measure that the NGO says has long been needed since the Aesthetics Board was disbanded in the 80s.

So far the government has taken no visible and positive steps to ensure that the environment is protected and that development is sustainable.   Din l-Art Helwa calls on the government to outline its vision for the environment to the public.