The success of the extensive reform of MEPA and, more importantly, the effectiveness of MEPA’s regulation is highly dependent upon the establishment of a robust enforcement system. Besides the setting up of a dedicated Enforcement Directorate within MEPA, the Authority also requested government to consider drastically revising the penalties imposed on all illegal development that has and will possibly be carried out.
This indispensable measure is sure to act as a strong deterrent, while the Authority tries to win the battle against illegal development. Over the past few days Cabinet has given its endorsement to the new penalties, under the Environment and Development Planning Act, which will be published in a Legal Notice.
Until today, penalties imposed by the Authority have been ineffective and rather feeble without distinguishing between the size, duration and location of an illegal development. Due to this, developers were not dissuaded from carrying out large scale illegalities.
The new penalties regulations will differentiate as to whether the illegality has or will be carried out in an ODZ area, Urban Conservation Area, development zone or within a scheduled property. In cases were sanctioning is deemed possible, a flat rate added with fine per meter squared will be imposed.
Where an illegal development is sanctionable, the maximum penalty has been raised from €2,300 to €50,000. The regulations also introduce new daily fines with a maximum of €50 per day for any new illegality. Sanctioning of illegal development in an ODZ area or within a scheduled property will not be permitted as of May 2008.
The new fines will enter into force upon publication of a legal notice and will be effective as from the beginning of October 2010.