Press Release 23 August 2014
News continues to be published daily in the media re the increasing number of illegal developments taking place on public land and in other areas, in particular in the countryside and on the coast. Din l-Art Helwa is concerned about the lack of enforcement action taken by the authorities in proportion to the illegalities committed and urges government to step up its resources to curb the rise in abuse.
Din l-Art Helwa calls on Mepa to publish statistics on reported abuse, enforcement action taken, and how many sites, if any, are returned to their natural state. Mepa site notices of planning applications awaiting approval of sanctioning, currently affixed to sites printed in the standard green, should be printed in red, says the NGO. In this way the public can be made aware that an illegal action has taken place on the site and that its owner by applying for sanction has admitted to abuse.
Furthermore, suggests Din l-Art Helwa, Mepa should publish all development applications requesting sanctioning of building illegalities on a separate public listing both on its website and in the national media. This is one way by which there can be more transparency and differentiation between requests for legal applications and those that are seeking to sanction abuse.
New planning regulations that have been proposed, in particular those eliminating Schedule 6 of the current Environment and Development Act are only being promoted by the authorities to curry favour with the development lobby and to fulfill electoral promises. Schedule 6, a critical clause in the current Act of 2010 strictly forbids sanctioning of illegalities in Out of Development Zones but this government through Mepa has stated it intends to do away with it in a clear demonstration of its intention to support those guilty of illegality even in protected areas.
This free for all mentality only incites further lawlessness and encourages more people to abuse the system whilst making a mockery of those law abiding citizens who do not. Din l-Art Helwa calls on government to promote good civic behaviour by taking both preventive and corrective measures immediately.