The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

Changes to PA’s planning fund aimed at encouraging more urban greening projects

Saturday, 23 May 2020, 11:24 Last update: about 6 days ago

Environmental measures in urban areas will be eligible for up to 100% funding from the Planning Authority, Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia announced on Saturday.

Farrugia unveiled changes to the PA's Development Planning Fund, which are aimed at facilitating environmental and green projects in Maltese localities.

Following consultations, the Minister announced a number of changes to the DPF, with the aim of encouraging greener and more socially conscious planning projects by local councils, NGOs and third parties. 

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For the first time, Green and Blue environmental measures in urban areas will be eligible for 100% funding, rather than requiring local councils to fork out a 30% co-financing rate of total eligible costs.

When beneficiaries work on vertical green walls overlooking public spaces, the scheme will also finance part of the maintenance - a total of 105% funding.

Local councils will for the first time have increased funding security, with funds specifically directed for their projects.

For the first time, NGOs and other non-local council beneficiaries will have 20% of the total funds in the scheme ring-fenced for their projects.

Percentage of funding is being increased in the case of partnerships of various kinds in addition to the current arrangements;

Funding for projects aimed at facilities for persons with disabilities will increase by 10%;

Each local council's capping will increase from €5 million to €7 million, giving those localities with significant urban development more funds to mitigate with green and blue infrastructure projects.

The 'Sebbaħ il-Lokal' initiative has also been extended from April 2020 to December 2022.

"These changes are part of a holistic overhaul of the concept of planning - shifting towards more intelligent planning and a greener vision for our localities," Minister Farrugia said.

PA Executive Chairman Martin Salba said this is an important reform that will allocate more funds to Local Councils, NGOs and individuals. These projects will lead to an improvement in the quality of life of citizens, he said, adding that local councils will also encouraged to come up with more project ideas.

Environmentalist and eNGO lawyer Claire Bonello said a lack of resources and the co-funding system has always been an obstacle for eNGOs who wish to carry out greening projects.  

She welcomed the initiative, which will not only help NGOs carry out their projects but can also help local council come up with bigger and better projects. Noting that there are certain controls and standards are in place, Bonello said the initiative is a very positive step.  

Mario Fava, president of the Local Councils Association, said a number of local councils have been unable to carry out certain projects because they were unable to meet their co-financing requirements. The AKL, he said, is prioritising the environment and this scheme will encourage more urban greening projects, which will lead to a better quality of life.

 

 


 

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