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HomeSeperatorMEPA NewsletterSeperatorOUTLOOK 8SeperatorCLIMATE CHANGE AT THE FOREFRONT OF LAND-USE PLANNING

CLIMATE CHANGE AT THE FOREFRONT OF LAND-USE PLANNING

climate changeThe Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) has commissioned a study that looks at how the current land use planning system can be improved to ensure that it takes on board climate change issues. This initiative was possible through the EU funded Interreg IV C project entitled Regions for Sustainable Change, in which MEPA is a project partner.

The study recognises that the current planning system contains elements that could aid work related to the mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The study also proposes a number of recommendations to be taken on board during different phases, from plan formulation to EIAs and development permitting.

Climate change is a phenomenon that has captured the attention of individuals at all levels of society, be they young or old, politicians or citizens. When considering the effects that climate change can have such as increased drought periods, increased heavy rainfall spells and more frequent and stronger storms one aspect that a country has to ensure is that its development process is undertaken in such a manner that reduces vulnerability to such impacts. The need to mainstream adaptation processes within the decision making processes of different economic sectors should be a priority.  One very relevant sector that could play a significant role in ensuring that Malta is more resilient is the planning process.

As a result of this situation, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority took the opportunity to commission a study that looks into how the current land use planning system can be improved to ensure that it takes on board climate change issues. This initiative was possible through the EU funded Interreg IV C project entitled Regions for Sustainable Change, in which MEPA is a project partner.

Whilst the study recognizes that the current planning system has within it elements mechanisms that could aid work related to mitigation and adaptation to climate change the study proposed a number of recommendations to be taken on board during different phases, from plan formulation to EIAs and development permitting.

One such recommendation involves the adoption of policies and procedures to ensure that climate change mitigation and adaptation measures are considered at all levels and stages when policies are being drafted.

 

According to the study, consideration should be given to incorporating specific policies in the Authority’s Structure Plan in respect of mitigation and adaptation measures, which could be extended to include zones for onshore and offshore large-scale wind farms, photovoltaic policies, soil sealing policies, better water catchment areas and no-build areas along coastal zones.

Yet another sound recommendation relates to Environment Impact Assessments, which should be amended to include the need for a Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Assessment. Currently only some EIA schemes are required to consider climate change, but by making it a requirement for every EIA to make this assessment, clarity and consistency in the way that climate change matters are considered can be ensured.

Amongst some of the recommendations made in the report, there are a number which have a strong educational value, for example the development and delivery of tailor-made and specialised educational packages for the new Environment and Planning Commissions, to ensure that they are fully familiar with all aspects of climate change and its possible impact on all sectors.

The range of recommendations outlined in the study were designed to integrate various issue related to climate change into all policy decisions and in all operational practices. The scope of the study is to provide guidance as to how the planning system as a whole can integrate climate change considerations in a more effective manner. Detailed incorporation of such measures would require further collaboration with the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs to ensure that there is synergy with the recently published Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies.