Almost three quarters of the decided applications for development in outside development zones were approved between 2013 and 2107, Environment Minister Ian Borg said.

Replying to a parliamentary question by Partit Demokratiku MP Godfrey Farrugia, Dr Borg said that contrary to media claims that 83% of ODZ applications in the period were approved, the percentage of applications approved from those which had been decided was of 74.58%.

Although this reflected an increase on the previous five years, one had to keep in mind that the Rural Policy (2014) was approved within this period, with the aim of assisting genuine farmers and growers improve their agriculture activities.

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While the new policy had strengthened the economy, it also resulted in an increase in the number of applications for the repair and modernisation of existing development, including homes found in rural settlements, which - although ODZs -were considered built up areas.

Moreover, for there to be more scrutiny on applications for ODZ development: the law was amended so that development which used to be approved solely by notification would now start going through the whole development process, he said.

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