A Planning Authority fund used to embellish towns and villages has been revamped to make it easier for local councils to tap money for green projects. 

The reform of the Development Planning Fund will allow local councils to obtain 100 per cent funding for environmental proposals for urban areas which are classified as “green” or “blue” according to the fund's rules. Previously, councils had to fork out 30 per cent in co-financing. 

It will also fully fund projects to create vertical green walls overlooking public places, with additional funds also given to councils to help maintain the walls initially for a total of 105 per cent funding.

The DPF promotes embellishment works in urban areas. Projects range from landscaping to traffic management and road resurfacing works which are considered beneficial to the wider community. 

Councils are the main beneficiaries, though NGOs and individuals can also apply for funding.

Aaron Farrugia and other stakeholders speak about the reform. Video: Environment Ministry

Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia said the reform was part of a conceptual shift. 

“These changes are part of a holistic overhaul of the concept of planning – shifting towards more intelligent planning and a greener vision for our localities,” he said.

Environmental lawyer and activist Claire Bonello said the initiative was a positive one. 

"NGOs will be able to run their projects. Local councils will be able to take on larger projects. And third parties will derive benefit," she said. 

Other key changes to the DPF include: 

• Increased funding security for local councils, with funds specifically directed for their projects.

• NGOs and other non-local council beneficiaries will have 20 per cent of the total funds in the scheme ring-fenced for their projects.

• A 10% increase in funding for projects aimed at facilities for people with disabilities.

• Funding increases for projects carried out as partnerships.
 
• Each local council’s capping will increase from €5 million to €7 million.

• ‘Sebbaħ il-Lokal’ has also been extended from April 2020 to December 2022.

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