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MEPA FIRN BELIEVER IN CONSULTATION

The Malta Independent
15th April, 2011

Reference is made to an article which was published in the Malta Independent on Saturday 09th April 2011, under the header ‘Developers worried about new Mepa policies’. The Malta Developers’ Association, following newspaper reports, expressed serious preoccupation about the review and updating of policies which the Malta Environment and Planning Authority is to start carrying out through the newly appointed Permanent Policy Review Commission.

In Mepa’s last media briefing session, the Authority highlighted the role and responsibilities which fall within the remit of the Permanent Policy Review Commission. The scope of this Commission is three-fold - to report on policies which are obsolete, conflicting or no longer practical; to streamline policies and to rectify any policy shortcomings brought to its attention by the Authority’s Board and Commissions. The Permanent Policy Review Commission is an advisory body and all its recommendations are made to the MEPA Board for the latter’s consideration.   

The Authority, also informed the media present, that it had a number of policy documents such as the Child Day care facilities guidance, the Floor Area Ratio planning policy and the Shooting Ranges guidance which although in the past had been approved by the MEPA Board, had never received Ministerial approval. The Board was recommending that the Policy Commission will assess the validity of these policy papers and carry out any updates if and where necessary.  

At no point during the briefing session, did the Authority ever indicate, or suggest that the updating or reviewing of these outdated policies will be spared the process of public consultation. Mepa is a firm believer that public consultation is not a constraint and obligatory exercise but an essential ingredient in public policy decision-making and delivery. Article 62(1) of the new Environment and Planning Development Act has purposely included the procedure of public consultation, with a minimum of 4 weeks, as a statutory requirement. We can reassure the public and all stakeholders that the Authority will only seek to keep strengthening and exploring new ways of facilitating better public participation for whatever policy it intends to introduce or review both for environment and planning issue purposes.