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PA silent on ‘blanket amnesty’ for fireworks factories

Pre-1994 fireworks factories to become “permitted developments”

The Planning Authority has not replied to questions about a controversial reform that would grant illegal fireworks factories a blanket amnesty.

In a draft legal notice issued for public consultation earlier this month, the authority proposed creating a new class of development notification order for existing developments related to “Malta’s culture and tradition”.

Authority sources said the legal notice would effectively turn pre-1994 fireworks factories into “permitted developments” and, according to the Kamra tal-Periti, allow their owners to convert them to be used for other purposes, even if they fell short of sanitary regulations, rural policies, design policies or any other possible regulatory safeguard.

Kamra tal-Periti said it would be opposing the move

A public consultation period concerning the legal notice began on April 2 and ended yesterday.

Questions sent to the authority about the matter, on whether the reform would constitute an amnesty, were not replied to, with a spokesman instead saying only that the matter was subject to public consultation.

Sources said the legal notice would benefit at least two such factories – one in Kerċem and another in Mellieħa.

The Tal-Boros factory in Kerċem was served with an enforcement notice back in 1999 following the illegal building of three workshops, a toilet and a kitchen on the site. The Mellieħa factory was also served with an enforcement notice for illegal buildings in 2009. 

In a statement yesterday, the Kamra tal-Periti said it would be opposing the move and asked why the PA was trying to change the law to legalise such facilities, rather than using existing channels for legalisation.

If the reform came into effect, the lobby group of architects and civil engineers warned, illegal factories would automatically be legalised without having to go through a sanctioning process. 

Writing in The Sunday Times of Malta, ERA board member Alan Deidun said it was ironic that in this day and age, when talk of the rule of law dominates the airwaves, both major political parties were in cahoots to appease yet another lobby – fireworks enthusiasts – to the detriment of public safety, health and other users of the countryside.

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