Planning Commission chair Elizabeth Ellul has failed in her duty to protect the environment and should resign, two environmental NGOs have said.
In a joint news conference Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA) and the Rambler’s Association of Malta slammed Ms Ellul as "not credible".
FAA member Astrid Vella said the NGOs were calling for Ms Ellul’s resignation in keeping with the demands of a recent public protest Iz-Zejjed Kollu Zejjed (Enough is Enough) against haphazard development.
“Communities are being vocal that they have had enough,” Ms Vella told reporters at a news conference overlooking the scenic Wied Għomor on Wednesday morning.
Rambler’s Association president Ingram Bondin said that as a public official Ms Ellul had failed in her duty to protect the environment in keeping with the spirit of the Maltese constitution.
Mr Bondin said that in 2014, when Ms Ellul drafted rural policy and design guidelines, on which proposals for development in Outside Development Zones (ODZ) are decided, she ignored warnings by NGOs that the policy did not protect the environment.
Three days ago Ms Ellul told Times of Malta that she believed it was time the policy she authored was updated, following controversial permit granted to developer Joseph Portelli to turn a dilapidated dwelling in Qala into a sprawling villa.
“It is the oldest trick in the book, to misinterpret planning policy and allow certain projects to go ahead,” Mr Bondin said.
“But projects are going ahead that do not even meet the criteria that the lax policy provides for and undermining the already limited protection written into it.
“Elizabeth Ellul is not credible and should not be involved in the drafting of a new policy.”
FAA chairman Paul Cardona made a public appeal to introduce a clause in the constitution that safeguards the environment as well as cultural heritage that cannot be undermined through political interference and is enforceable in court.
The second chapter of the constitution currently holds that the state must “safeguard the landscape and the historical and artistic patrimony of the Nation” and “take measures to address any form of environmental degradation in Malta”.
However, Mr Cardona argued, this is rendered toothless and the final clause in the chapter declares that none of these provisions are enforceable in court.
Times of Malta has contacted Elizabeth Ellul for comment.