The Malta Environment & Planning Authority (MEPA) has published updated guidelines to provide a strategy for the installation of permanent billboards. These contain a comprehensive guidance that will cover all aspects related to other signs and outdoor advertising proposals.
The updating of the existing policy was considered necessary for various reasons. An increasing number of applications for permanent billboards was rendering previous proceedures unsuitable. Also, the previous policy had become outdated due to developments in media technologies, in society expectations and in changes in land-use policy such as ecological scheduling. Due to these changes, a permanent billboard site selection exercise had to be carried out. The site selection exercise was intended to provide an overview in the form of maps to clearly visualise the capacity of permanent freestanding billboards that each road could cater for.
The baseline of the site selection exercise consisted in mapping the previous permits for permanent billboards issued between 2002 and 2005, then providing a number of sites abutting on arterial and distributor roads, which in the opinion of MEPA in consultation with ADT, were adequate for such development. A total of 96 sites were indicated in the maps issued for Public Consultation in November 2005.
During the Public Consultation process, a total number of 198 requests for permanent billboards (6x3 metres) were received and reviewed. These requests were mapped together with the sites issued in the Public Consultation Draft. Provided with the comments by the Malta Transport Authority and combined with the experience gained throughout the previous exercise, a total of 114 permanent billboard sites have been accepted and published, a slight increase from the 96 issued in the Public Consultation Draft.
These maps are intended to help applicants, architects and Development Control Officals at MEPA to visualise the capacity of billboards that each road can cater for, so that future applications for billboards can be dealt with.
Temporary billboards will only be permitted to promote activities related to cultural, religious, social and political parties subject to certain conditions.
With this new policy framework the Authority is in a position to tackle the present situation. Owners of free-standing billboards will need to regularise their position in accordance with these policies.