The Malta Independent 17 September 2021, Friday

Malta needs ‘mature discussion’ on the environment – Aaron Farrugia

Jake Aquilina Wednesday, 5 May 2021, 17:03 Last update: about 5 months ago

Malta needs to hold more mature discussions in order to solve environmental and planning issues, Minister for the Environment Aaron Farrugia said.

The environment has been a hot topic as of recent years, with one of the notable features being the rampant overdevelopment and lack of open areas. Various stakeholders remain concerned about the current situation which has been rearing its head over the years.

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Farrugia said that discussions are important, but without actions, they are futile.

“We shouldn’t just say that we have buildings that are not liked or that can be more aesthetically pleasing. We need to see how legislative changes that happened in the past are influencing today,” he said.

He criticised previous PN administrations as “it was in 2005 that Malta gave that extra storey so that a penthouse could be built on a house of 3 storeys or more.”

“While I welcome the discussion in our country and encourage it, it needs to be more mature in the sense that we don’t stop until saying ‘Listen, there are a lot of buildings being erected and over development’, but rather how we are going to reduce such things. I think the two parties together with NGOs and the whole society should have a mature discussion as to how we should move forward,” the minister said.

Regarding the Private Members bill that the PN has recently put forward, which requested for ERA meetings to be held in public, the Minister said that he is “currently reviewing it with the technical people and experts”.

He also remarked that the ERA board has a wide representation; “there is a PN representative as well as representatives from NGOs, so there is “total transparency, where everything is decided through a board.”

“It is also good to note that the Industrial Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPCs) were always publihed, so there is documentation with agendas, and so forth,” he said.

The minister also noted that when he started his tenure, the Environmental Impact Assessments “were also being reported”.

The minister was also asked about the President’s recent comments, where he criticised the state of the environment and the planning behind it. However, Farrugia did not give a direct comment on the issue.

“I have great respect towards the President of Malta, I know him as a person who truly loves the environment,” Farrugia said.

 

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