Press Release 26th June 2014
Din l-Art Helwa has submitted further comments to government on the draft Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development, Malta’s principal environment and development plan for the 2014-2020 period. This draft Strategic Plan is intended to replace the Structure Plan of 1990 which was adopted by Parliament.
Din l-Art Helwa maintains that this document is fatally flawed and falls far short of fulfilling the requirements of a Strategic Plan to guide development and land use in Malta until 2020.
It is also clear that the government has taken a conscious decision to bypass Parliament where essential decisions concerning development and land use, including the delineation of Development Zones, are concerned. By removing these elements from the Strategic Plan and inserting them in Local Plans instead, the government is trying to ensure that the strategic direction of land use until 2020 will no longer be determined in full transparency by Parliament, as was previously the case with the Structure Plan of 1990, but will now be determined by a Minister alone by a simple stroke of his pen. This proposal is one of the most retrograde steps possible, pushing the clock back decades.
The draft Strategic Plan is out of line with the Environment and Development Planning Act 2010 which states clearly that the Strategic Plan should set out policies and include “an explanatory memorandum giving a reasoned justification for each of the policies and proposals contained in the plans.” (Cap. 504 51c). Furthermore, unlike the 1990 Structure Plan, the draft Strategic Plan does not include adequate spatial plans, policy details or the explanatory memoranda that should form an integral part of a Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development.
Din l-Art Helwa is insisting that:
- In the light of the current building over-development, the Strategic Plan should guarantee to the public that no increases in Development Zones will be permitted to allocate more land for residential purposes.
- Decisions which, to date, require the approval of Parliament should continue to be the responsibility of Parliament. This can be done either by ensuring that the draft Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development be revised radically to include these matters or by providing that the Local Plans currently being revised be discussed and approved by Parliament.
Din l-Art Helwa also calls on Minister Leo Brincat to prove that Malta still has a Minister responsible for the Environment. Leo Brincat should not have accepted that this draft Strategic Plan be issued for consultation, since in no way can it be described as an adequate Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development. He should have insisted that MEPA go back to the drawing board and publish a proper holistic strategy to regulate the sustainable development of land and sea resources as required by Malta’s Environment and Planning Development Act.