In the letter ODZ Policy Objectives (September 18), the Malta Environment and Planning Authority refers to an article by Din l-Art Ħelwa and states that the public was given 17 days during which to comment as it “launched a series of newspaper adverts on August 31”.
We have asked Mepa about these adverts and are informed that, for the first week of the consultation, it published one advert in l-Orizzont on August 31 and one advert in In-Nazzjon on September 3. The next advert appeared on September 8 in The Sunday Times of Malta.
The closing date for the public to send in comments was September 16.
Din l-Art Ħelwa required more time to submit comments but Mepa refused without providing any justification.
The poor dissemination of information on this important consultation fades in comparison with the implications of Mepa’s statement that these are “only the objectives” of the review of the policy.
Defining the objectives is the basis of the policy review. It involves identifying existing problems and setting priorities. This crucial stage of the review should have been linked to a much broader discussion.
Some of the ongoing policy revisions are being led by industry stakeholders who stand to gain from a relaxation of the rules. This makes it even more critical that the public is properly consulted about the objectives of these revisions.
Disregarding the importance of strategic objectives is reflected elsewhere.
The local plans are being revised without strategic objectives, land reclamation is on the agenda without any strategy and the changes to the national energy policy lack a strategic environmental assessment.
A piecemeal method seems set to become a regular feature of the current approach to planning and the environment.
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