Environmental NGOs are among the obstacles to development, according to a members’ survey by the Developers’ Association (MDA).

In response to the question on what they felt is the biggest obstacle in the industry, 28 per cent of members replied MEPA, 16 per cent said banks, six per cent said taxes, nine per cent said oversupply, and 40 per cent replied other factors, including bureaucracy, low profit and NGOs.

Low profits and bureaucracy were also a cause for concern to developers, but the findings overall reveal that the negative outlook on property development has been reversed and that developers are now reinvigorated to initiate new projects.

Photo: Jason BorgPhoto: Jason Borg

President Sandro Chetcuti presented the survey’s findings to Parliamentary Secretary for Planning Michael Falzon at an introductory meeting at Castille today.

More than half the association’s members, 62 per cent, say property development remains attractive and 74 per cent say they will invest in new development projects. They feel bureaucracy has decreased and the planning authority has been performing “better” in the last 12 months.

Reforms of planning policies initiated by government to simplify planning procedures seem to be bearing fruit in the construction industry, although the impact on the environment has been a cause for concern among NGOs that have lambasted the changes.

Mr Chetcuti pressed on with a jibe at environmental organisations: “Contrary to what is said by those who try to instil fear, the MDA has never expected to have a monopoly on planning policies”.

He said the association believes it has a great contribution to give to a government that is pro-business and wants to increase employment.

“This can only happen if our members can work and feel confident they will overcome unnecessary obstacles,” Mr Chetcuti said.

In his reply, Dr Falzon echoed Mr Chetcuti’s willingness to work at improving relations and thanked the MDA for its feedback on the various policies that are up for consultation.

The country, he said, is “walking a tightrope” because of size limitations. He reaffirmed the administration’s pro business attitude and said that it was important that, at the end of the day, decisions taken are understood and accepted in the spirit that they are in the national interest.

In a clarification later in the evening, the MDA said they do not consider environmental NGOs as their biggest obstacle.

"NGOs feature under part of a bigger figure that brings other factors together."