MEPA has been a problem since its inception in 2002 and its mission statement has to be one of the funniest ever published for the fact that it actually managed to do the opposite of what it promised during the last fourteen years.
This is how the Mission Statement starts: “Our aim is to pass onto our children a better country than we inherited. It is for this very reason that we compare our environment to a treasure, something we place our energies in, to protect, care for and improve.”
Does anybody really thinks our children will inherit a better country than we had – a country raped by mega-developments, illegal encroachment, lack of conservation, rampant building in the ODZ and illegal permits to well-known developers who seem to get anything they want from the current government who pulls MEPA strings?
Our children are growing and many already miss the quaint Sliema coastline studded with two-storey houses of characters that have been over-developed during the last thirty years into a mass of concrete flats. For half that time, the construction was sanctioned by MEPA who today continue to rape and destroy Sliema by mega-developments such as that of Forestals.
People laugh when they read MEPAs Mission Statement because it is so ironic for the Authority will go down in Maltese history as the one that contributed so much to the destruction of the Maltese environment when it was supposed to have protected it from rampant construction.
How can MEPA reconcile the destruction of the Kalkara Valley, the construction of Fort Chambrai and the Tigne Mega-development with a better country?
The mission statement also states that the environment is a treasure. No one doubt’s this, especially in the way that the most beautiful parts of the island have been sold for development and the way MEPA building permits have become the main currency used by Nationalist Ministers to elicit the financial help from developers and contractors, who during fund-raising activities hand over fat envelopes full of thousands of Euros for the Nationalist Party’s perusal.
According to MEPA, “The environment encompasses all - nature, cultural and architectural heritage, towns and villages, the countryside, the seas and air. We believe that together we should carefully plan so that our heritage, this gem which we treasure, will not fade away.”
Can MEPA sincerely expect us to believe that it has worked actively to “carefully plan so that our heritage, this gem which we treasure, will not fade away”?
Why is the destruction of village cores still allowed? Why has the ODZ been extended repeatedly? Why have so many buildings been given permits in the ODZ? What about the illegal boathouses that have taken over some of Malta’s best beaches? Why hasn’t MEPA solved this problem after fourteen years? What about the level of pollution in our country that is still so high? What about the pathetic state of alternative energy usage in our country? Why did MEPA allow the construction of a heavy fuel oil-fired power-plant that will continue to increase local pollution?
The Mission Statement doesn’t realise it is so absurd and continues by saying that: “The Malta Environment & Planning Authority is committed to ensure that land use and the protection of the environment meet the needs of today's society and future communities.”
This actually shows that even MEPA doesn’t take itself seriously because during the last fourteen years, empty buildings continued to increase at such an alarming rate that today we have more than three times the empty properties there were in 2002 that amounts to close to 80 000 empty properties, half of them being new ones!
Who allowed this state of affairs?
Who never lifted a finger to try to control such a ridiculous situation?
And here’s the cherry on the cake!
“We are working to ensure a quality of life that will be in harmony with our natural, cultural and built environment. In so doing we are seeking to implement sustainable development that safeguards the environment.”
It seems that MEPA officials have never spoken to people living in the Marsa area and beyond? The same people who complained for years against the black dust that rained upon their roofs and caused so much asthma, and that issued from the power-station. What did MEPA ever do to protect and solve these peoples problems?
What sustainable development?
Do we see any signs of implementation of such development aimed at safeguarding the environment?
No, we don’t!
A new Labour Government should take a really long detail look at MEPA and its operation, and initiate radical changes by first splitting environmental protection from planning. Then someone can maybe re-write its fairytale-like mission statement so that it includes the damage to the environment that was left by MEPA by ignoring their own mission statement and turning into a laughing stock.
Profs. Falzon’s integrity makes him dangerous to GonziPN
The governments’ recent move to eliminate Profs. Joe Falzon from the post MEPA auditor shows that the onset of an early election is forcing the Prime Minister’s hand to make it easier for party friendly developers to get what they want from the Authority.
And once again, history repeats itself!
In 2008, Profs Joe Falzon was instrumental in causing the entire MEPA Development Control Commission to resign en masse after the release of a report that described the approval of a supermarket in Safi belonging to ic-Caqnu on land outside development zone as a “gross irregularity”.
The verdict was given by MEPA’s audit officer Joe Falzon after a complaint by Alternattiva Demokratika. MEPA chairman Andrew Calleja quickly started whining that he was aggrieved by the audit officer’s verdict and was going to inform the Prime Minister.
A further resignation of Catherine Galea, who was MEPAs deputy chairman and the architect of an illegal development at Santa Maria Estate continued to show to what depths the Authority had been allowed to sink by the Minister of Rural Affairs, George Pullicino a few months before the 2008 election.
MEPA became such a political embarrassment that GonziPN promised to reform MEPA if he was re-elected. Today, everybody knows how well that turned out!
Unfortunately, intimations of an early election has already claimed one of the first casualties—Profs Joe Falzon who has not been re-appointed as MEPA auditor. The most probably for this sad turn of events is to leave MEPA without a watchdog during the last few months before the elections when the Nationalist government will want to use the Authority as a political tool of incumbency to pass on as many permits as possible to Nationalist friendly developers and voters.
It is a veritable pity that Profs. Falzon who always did his work with utmost integrity and honesty will be replaced with some Nationalist yes-man who will probably rubber-stamp every single decision MEPA takes in the next few months.
But that’s what our upright Prime Minister wants!