The Malta Independent 1 November 2014, Saturday

FAA not convinced about PL Mepa proposals

Malta Independent Thursday, 31 January 2013, 11:48 Last update: about 6 months ago

Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA), while agreeing that a review of MEPA's functioning is necessary, feels that not enough detail has been provided.

The Labour Party on Wednesday presented its proposals for what it said was a need for a complete overhaul of the way Mepa works.

In a statement that was picked up from FAA coordinator Astrid Vella’s Facebook page, FAA said has long called for separation of the environment directorate from MEPA and its integration with the Resources Authority but questions have to be asked. Is this new environment authority only going to have one vote on the MEPA planning board, which could leave it in an even weaker situation than it is presently?

Similarly, once amalgamated with the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage, will the Heritage Protection Unit have a presence on the MEPA board? Will the MEPA boards and committees still be allowed to ignore the recommendations of the expert heritage and environment committees? No mention has been made of whether ethical standards will finally be enacted, and what measures will be taken when permits are issued that violate MEPA regulations. The PL proposals also fail to address the issue of the dismantled protection of scheduled trees, which exposes heritage gardens to being destroyed by development.

The FAA is still extremely concerned about the lack of importance being given to the issue of over-development which has been identified by the public as the major environmental problem facing the Maltese islands. The PL's commitment to review Local Plans is positive however it contradicts the proposal to extend permits for an extra five years. Given the fact that Local Plans may take four years to be drawn up, this could result in yet more over-development if permits issued while the Local Plans are being drawn up, are subsequently renewed, and continue to be valid in 15 years' time.

Ultimately the devil is in the detail, and the lack of specific details, especially on the issue of abusive boathouses and the greening of our towns and villages, does not allay the NGO’s concerns on the future of Malta’s heritage and environment, the FAA said.

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