Din l-Art Helwa Press Release – 9th July 2015

Following yesterday’s debate in Parliament, Din l-Art Helwa repeats its position that the new Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED) is not an acceptable replacement of the Structure Plan. The document attempts to fulfil the letter of the law, while ignoring its spirit. One would have expected the standards for a document of strategic national importance to be set at a much higher level.

The government has still not explained why the feedback received from the public in 2012 and 2014 was practically ignored. The document presented to Parliament did not contain any changes emanating from this feedback which was submitted by various entities and the general public in two consultation exercises. Suggestions made by Din l-Art Helwa during the recent Parliamentary Committee meetings were comparatively minor attempts to plug holes and salvage a sinking ship.

Moreover, new clauses have been introduced which further weaken the document, such as the clause stating that vacant land in rural areas can be developed on the basis of feasibility. The feasibility of individual projects should not be a policy direction in Malta’s main spatial planning document, particularly when guiding projects into rural areas. This can be given a very broad interpretation and opens a loophole to enable the development of large commercial projects in rural areas.

Din l-Art Helwa expresses its disappointment that its appeal to the Prime Minister for the clauses to allow such areas to be developed on the basis of feasibility to be deleted, failed to convince government of the need to do so.  This was one precious opportunity for Government to show  it was serious about its intention to protect Malta’s dwindling open spaces from construction and development which it has failed to take.