Development and the environment should not be perceived as polar opposites, as both are key to improving the quality of life, Environment Minister Leo Brincat said this afternoon.
Mr Brincat was speaking during a meeting with the Malta Developers Association, which was held at the association’s request.
The minister stressed that while his portfolio concerned the environment, this did not mean that he believed that there was no room for development. Instead, he said, he believed that the two issues should be addressed hand-in-hand.
Mr Brincat pointed out that he was also the minister for sustainable development, and as such, he would strive to ensure that future development would truly be environmentally, economically, socially and culturally sustainable.
He said that he was convinced that the construction sector had a positive contribution to make – if proper planning takes place – particularly if it gives greater prominence to reducing air and noise pollution.
But he also stressed that one of his ministry’s priorities was to ensure that Malta reaches the highest environmental standards possible, and that some difficult decisions were ahead – including the ongoing reform of the Malta Environmental and Planning Authority which will see it divided into two separate entities.
Both Mr Brincat and MDA president Michael Falzon recognised that there was room for further dialogue and cooperation between the two sides, and the latter remarked that he did not expect great disagreements to arise.
Mr Falzon noted that the MDA had become an observer member of the European Union of Developers and House Builders (UEPC) lobby group – it is expected to become a full member next November – and that the group was helping the association keep abreast of developments at an EU level.
He emphasised the need for EU policies that recognised the different situations faced by different countries, pointing out that a one-size-fits-all approach would hardly be ideal.
The meeting, as is standard, continued behind closed doors after each side’s introductory speech.