Nature Trust (Malta) on the MEPA reform proposal
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Nature Trust (Malta) welcomes the draft proposal for the Malta Environment and Planning Authority reform. The NGO now hopes that the reform will not only be on paper. MEPA in the past already had good policies; however such policies were often interpreted in a way that gave way to abuse of the system and often, the result lead to wrong decisions. Some cases where often decided by the DCC boards that seemed to act different from the main MEPA Board thus resulting in the situation we have today.
To this regard the NGO feels that all appointments on MEPA boards and DCCs should have competent and accountable persons who would be free of any political or conflict of interest sides.
The NGOs feels that to date the merger between the Planning and the Environment was a big failure. Up to now the Planning part of MEPA remained the dominant arm over environment despite various promises. The new MEPA should therefore reflect more the merger and therefore the environment should always be given equal weighting to planning – if this merger is to be retained. In all decisions the environment should be also a main issue and that both the Main MEPA Board and the DCC boards should have an equal representation of environmental experts.
Apart from this, NTM feels that there should also be a mentality change in all units of MEPA. For the outsider MEPA is a one institution, however all those having to deal with MEPA often get lost in hearing MEPA officials pointing fingers at the various units working within the organisation.
NTM welcomes the zero tolerance to ODZ development and to sanctioning of cases. It now hopes that until such a reform is agreed in parliament, sanctioning will not become the order of the day in a race to have as many illegal development regulated till the reform is in place. The NGO welcomes the stronger powers given to the MEPA auditor and feels that only with such power can the present auditor continue in doing such a good job of exposing the irregularities. It is now hopes that all those involved in the decision making process will be accountable for their actions.
Finally Nature Trust (Malta) now hopes that the reform will eventually be of a genuine nature and not the usual paper formality this country is used to. Similar to our national laws, Malta has a lot of good laws but enforcement is always lacking. NTM feels that at the end of the day whatever we do, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating and only time will show if this reform was a success. The NGOs hope that the political parties will not make MEPA a political ball, but they shall give it the power to function properly as it should. NTM also hopes that the enforcement unit will get the promised resources it should really have and that such enforcement is undertaken in all the Maltese Islands and with everyone