Petra Caruana Dingli

Petra's blog follows events and news on the rural and urban environment, and on cultural heritage - mostly in Malta

27 Jun

The Ta Cenc referendum

by Petra Caruana Dingli The application for development at Ta’ Ċenċ in Gozo has haunted the planning authority’s corridors for 20 years. It lurks in dark corners, occasionally startling nervous planning officers by appearing on a desk, or opening an old file or cupboard like a resident poltergeist. It has courted controversy and been opposed by the public at every stage. The...

18 Jun

More on highrise

by Petra Caruana Dingli Believing that high-rise will take the pressure off the countryside is wishful thinking. Applications for construction in rural areas continue relentlessly, for petrol stations, schools, old people’s homes and more. Small and large permits are continually granted outside the development zone, eating the countryside away, piece by piece. At Żonqor, a chunk of rural land will soon make...

15 May

Wied Ghomor & Zonqor

by Petra Caruana Dingli It is welcome news that the Planning Authority board has refused to grant a permit for a large development in Wied Għomor valley. It is especially positive that the board listened to many residents and NGOs. The environmental lobby can easily slip into feeling that it is talking to the wall. Many of its concerns are routinely...

26 Apr

An Appeals Fiasco

When the Mepa demerger laws were launched, many concerns raised by NGOs and other prominent voices were shrugged off. One of the worries is linked to appeals. Government authorities can simply be ignored by the new Planning Authority if they do not give their expert opinion on planning applications within 30 days. In the new system, they can then lodge a...

29 Feb

Tourism and the countryside

by Petra Caruana Dingli In an interview with The Sunday Times of Malta last week, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association president spoke of the success of the tourism industry. He emphasised the need for good public transport, better roads and more training. Apparently 2015 was a record year, with 1.8 million tourists. This is partly attributed to the current problems in...

24 Jan

The Climate Action Board

by Petra Caruana Dingli Environmental NGOs have lobbied to participate on government boards for donkey’s years. This even caused disputes in Parliament recently, and was one of the triggers for the resignation of Marlene Farrugia from the Labour Party. Farrugia and the Opposition pushed for three NGO representatives on the boards of the new environment and planning authorities, while the government only...

04 Aug

The MEPA ‘Demerger’

INTERVIEW IN THE MALTA INDEPENDENT – 3rd AUGUST 2015 The Mepa demerger – the separating of the planning and environmental functions – could open the floodgates to even more disastrous planning decisions, according to leading environmentalist PETRA CARUANA DINGLI. The former Mepa Environment Protection Director and Din l-Art Helwa Council member, speaking in her personal capacity, also tells Neil Camilleri that, despite their...

19 Jun

Moving out of the glasshouse

by Petra Caruana Dingli The government cannot hope to safeguard its environmental reputation just by pointing out the faults of others. If the Opposition, the Curia,NGOs, or now even the general public, say anything in favour of the environment, they are immediately shot down with a comparison to past misdeeds, or to their silence on comparable issues. People who live in glasshouses should...

19 Dec

‘Tweaking’ the countryside

by Petra Caruana Dingli Last week, Maltatoday reported that the development boundaries are going to be “tweaked,” as stated by Dr Michael Falzon, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning, in an interview. ‘Tweaked’ is an interesting choice of word, suggesting a small, benign and affable gesture. I don’t know whether the journalist translated this from Maltese, or whether Michael Falzon used it...