Labour to separate Mepa planning and environment functions
Local councils to get planning vote
A Labour government will separate the planning and environment functions of the planning authority, according to Joseph Muscat.
Addressing journalists in front of theMepa offices in Floriana, the Labour leader unveiled wide-ranging changes to the composition of the authority, including the right for local councils to have a vote on the board.
Dr Muscat said environment groups and developers had long been asking for the environment and planning functions to be separated as they were in the past.
A regulatory authority incorporating the environment and resources would be set up with a vote on the planning board - as opposed to a simple recommendation as it is today.
Dr Muscat said that for big projects, the affected local council would be given a right to vote on the board when a decision is taken.
Asked by timesofmalta.com whether the political parties would lose the seat they have on the board, Dr Muscat said Labour had no problem with that but any such decision will have to be taken in agreement with the Opposition.
"We don't feel the government should impose this because the Opposition may interpret this as lack of scrutiny. But if the Opposition agrees, we have no problem in removing the party representatives on the planning board."
Describing the MEPA reform undertaken by the current administration as a "spectacular failure", Dr Muscat said planning fees will also be reviewed downwards to make them realistic.
On the illegal Armier boathouses, he said "a reasonable and just solution" had to be found.
- Planning and environmental functions will be separated. Today they fall under one umbrella at Mepa.
- Environment and resources will fall under one authority. The authority will have a vote on the planning authority board and not simply a recommendation.
- A planning and sustainable development authority will replace MEPA.
- A parliamentary committee to oversee planning issues will be set up. Dedicated sessions for Gozo.
- Local councils affected by certain development projects will be given a vote on the planning board when those projects come up for decision.
- Extend regularisation scheme for illegalities, especially related to sanitary laws.
- Planning tariffs will be reviewed to make them sustainable and reasonable.
- Architects will be empowered to issue compliance certificates. They will be professionally responsible for their actions.
- Permit extensions will be given in certain cases
- More minor developments will fall under the notification system.
- A fund will be set up for green groups, which they can tap to finance research on projects they will want to object to.
- Green groups will appoint a representative on the planning authority and the environment and resources authority.