The Mepa demerger came into force today with Mepa reverting to its old name of the Planning Authority as environmental issues were handed over to the new Environment and Resources Authority (ERA).
Vince Cassar, former Mepa chairman and now chairman of the PA, said sustainable development, design guidelines and shorter processing times are top of the priority list.
“My work will be geared towards ensuring we can achieve the necessary balance between developers and environmentalists to protect our common heritage and truly prioritise sustainable development,” he said.
The demerger had come under fire from environmental groups, who warned that it would weaken environmental governance and allow the minister to interfere with decision-making, as well as the office of the Ombudsman, which said the proposals undermined transparency, accountability and access to public scrutiny.
PA CEO Johann Buttigieg said new processes must be transparent and accountable. “The new structure will allow us to move towards more effective enforcement and more self-compliance.”
Mr Buttigieg also said that design guidelines would be a priority, with the establishment of a new Design Advisory Committee under the leadership of David Mallia. “New buildings can no longer be an eyesore but must be of high design quality and respect their surroundings,” he added.
Parliamentary secretary Deborah Schembri said the shortened procedures being brought in with the demerger – including tighter timeframes on consultations and the possibility of expedited ‘summary permits’ – would be of benefit to the public and to businesses, while ensuring that environmental protection was not weakened.