Press Release, 1st February 2014
Heritage NGO Din l-Art Helwa has called into serious question the recent decision by Mepa’s Board to approve the new Out of Development Zone policy when the new national Strategic plan for Environment and Development (SPED) is just weeks away from being concluded. Din l-Art Helwa has also asked the Parliamentary Committee for Environment and Development to discuss the issue which discussion was initiated last Wednesday in the presence of several ENGOs, and Mepa officials.
During the meeting it was announced by Mepa officials that the draft of the new SPED is close to being finalised, and this, says Din l-Art Helwa, puts more onus on the Mepa board to not bring new policies for approval until such time as the strategy is announced, its preceding studies published and made available to all for consultation.
Following the meeting, Din l-Art Helwa has sent a letter to the Parliamentary Secretary for Planning, Dr Michael Farrugia, and to the Chairman and Board of Mepa, stating that the action taken by the MEPA Board to approve construction in Out of Development Zones, was taken notwithstanding the fact that the national policy is only weeks away from being concluded. It goes without saying, stated Din l-Art Helwa, that the new SPED, following consultation and environmental assessments, should guide any new planning policies and these should not be absorbed retroactively. The total cumulative impact on land use and other social and economic aspects of the numerous policies being introduced by Government as well as other national needs, must be studied and analysed in depth for a new Strategic Plan to be effective and truly govern the vision for planning for the next decade. Ignoring this requirement, says Din l-Art Helwa, is a serious manifestation of bad governance.
In its letter to the authorities, Din l-Art Helwa requests that all the planning policies currently being revised or introduced by MEPA, including the one just approved for ODZ, should therefore be reissued for public consultation once the information contained with the SPED has been made available to the public.
At this stage, and with the parliamentary discussion on the issue still to be continued, Din l-Art Helwa has requested of MEPA, as well as of the Parliamentary Secretary for Planning, Dr Michael Farrugia, to make a firm commitment that no further new or revised planning policies are approved until the SPED has been finalised.
The correspondence is available on www.dinlarthelwa.org