In July 2006, the Maltese Government approved the Rationalisation Scheme to add countryside sites all over Malta and Gozo to the building zones. If building permits are issued on these sites, thousands of residents will be negatively affected.
This is already happening in the Tad-Dib area in Mosta, where 650 new homes will be built on open fields. In Naxxar a Rationalisation site intended to supply new plots for homes is now being planned as an enormous supermarket which will cause major problems to existing neighbours. About 60 other areas all over Malta and Gozo are affected, including other large building projects. These developments will be on land previously classed as Outside Development Zone (ODZ), and they could be just outside your front door.
This Rationalisation Scheme was passed through Parliament by Government :
Even though we have a far lower percentage of countryside than other EU countries;
Even though the MEPA Local Plans already provide for 90,000 new housing units, double what Malta needs by 2020;
Even though Malta already has over 75,000 vacant properties;
Even though the Authorities had admitted that the extra building land would not reduce property prices;
Although the Government claimed that these sites would allow owners to build housing for their own use, many are large-scale and intended for speculative development.
According to EU regulations, such a scheme should have been preceded by a Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) to ensure that it was really necessary and subjected to full public consultation. Our Government ignored these requirements, insisting there was no time or need for an SEA. The EU Directives were violated and development of these sites is accelerating, to the detriment of the health and well-being of residents in those areas and all of Malta.
Environmental NGOs Ramblers Association of Malta, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar (FAA) and Friends of the Earth Malta had petitioned the EU, and together with 125 individuals, started a court case against the Government, which is still being heard.
So why was the Rationalisation Scheme enacted? For the benefit of speculators?
Far from Minister Pullicino’s claim that building zone extensions would stop building in the countryside, it has in fact unleashed an avalanche of ODZ applications. Developers are applying for so-called Planning Control applications in order to convert fields to building sites all over the islands while speculators are selling such land telling people that the permits of these ODZ sites are definitely going to be issued soon. The take-up of the countryside has gone far beyond the declared 3%.
Building up more of Malta means:
More air pollution
More vacant, decaying property
More energy consumption
Decreasing ability to adapt to climate change
Less agricultural land
Less rainwater filling the aquifer – Malta’s main water supply
Less local food production
Fewer long-term jobs
It is now time that all citizens of Malta are made aware of the threats to their current way of life, and unite to demand that the EU intervenes before it is too late to ensure that our Government fulfils its environmental obligations. To do this, a petition has been prepared, which is available on this link .
This petitition is in the form of a letter addressed to Dr. Janez Potocnik, the new EU Environment Commissioner, but the NGOs are urging the public to follow the above link and also access the EU link that will follow submission of the letter to the Commissioner, as this will allow them to petition the EU Parliament.
Note: Gozo News has launched a new poll regarding ODZ development, if you wish to vote in the poll you will find it towards the top of the right-hand sidebar, the poll is available on every page, with the exception of the front-page.