PROTECTING OUR EVIRONMENT TOGETHER
NEW PROCEDURES AND PENALTY SYSTEM TO CURB ILLEGAL DEVELOPMENT
Few will argue against the need that our environment needs more protection. Land and natural resources on the Maltese Islands make the regulation of land use and activities affecting the environment very critical. The Mepa Reform, while significantly addressing the issues of efficiency, accountability and consistence, always harped upon the fact that the effectiveness of MEPA’s regulations is dependent upon the establishment of a robust enforcement system. The Authority is introducing a number of measures that will curb the practice of illegal development.
FROM 01ST January 2011
The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) will not be accepting applications that to seek to regularize illegal development under the following categories:
1. An application to regularise a development which exceeds the approved footprint or, increases the approved volume of the building and is not part of a registered livestock farm and is carried out after May 2008 in an area which falls outside areas designated for development as defined in the Structure Plan or in any other plan; or
2. An application to regularise a development in a scheduled property; or
3. An application to regularise a development carried out after May 2008 in an area protected under the provisions of this Act or any Regulation issued thereunder.
All illegal development that falls within the above categories has to unconditionally be removed by the owner.
In 2011, the Authority, through the publication of legal notices, will introduced a new model of daily fines and a revision to the penalties that will apply to a number of development breaches that seek to be sanctioned.
The applicable daily fines and penalties will be categorised according to the type of development in question and fines will vary according to whether the illegality is a minor offence, not in accordance with permission or, at worst, completely without the required planning permits.
The Daily Penalty Regulations outline the daily fines that will be imposed on illegal or non conforming developments. In this case, the daily fines that will be defined in this Legal Notice are categorised into 8 different sections with the lowest daily fine being of €2 and the highest being capped at € 50 per day. In the case of multiple illegalities on the same site, the highest rate for the cumulative illegalities will be imposed.
The daily fines will only be applicable for any irregularities carried out after the publication of the legal notice, while the new revised penalties will apply for the sanctioning of any illegal developments.
The new penalties, clearly embark away from the old structure and, as a result of the different possible scenarios, a number of detailed formulae will be adopted when calculating any penalties that may be applicable.
The breaches and their relevant penalties have been categorised into four schedules namely: -
- Schedule A: developments that are not in accordance with their respective development permission permits;
- Schedule B: developments without a development permission permit (whether in ODZ area or not);
- Schedule C & D: minor development offences.
The first type of breach, also referred to as Schedule A, tackles those developments that are not in accordance with their respective development permission or that are not according to official alignment. In cases where the development has been carried out in an ODZ area, the penalty can go up to as much as €50,000.
The second category, Schedule B, tackles developments that were carried out without permission and once again here the penalties go up to 600 per cent of the development planning fee (DPF) together with a fixed charge. In cases where the illegal development is carried out in a protected area, the penalties will be further increased by a 100 per cent.
Schedule C and D tackles those breaches that are minor development offences or offences pertaining to the failure to obtain a completion certificate or tampering with any seals placed by the Authority. Breaches falling within these categories will be subject to a penalty ranging from €50 to €1500.