Environmental NGOs support Nationalist Bill on ERA reform

Environmental NGOs want to be granted an automatic judicial interest in appeals from the ERA decisions before the PA appeals tribunal

Malta’s major environmental NGOs have come out in support of a private members’ bill tabled by the Opposition to reform part of the legal framework governing the Environment and Resources Authority.

The Ramblers’ Association of Malta, Friends of the Earth Malta, Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta and The Archaeological Society Malta reiterated their stance on the need for greater transparency in the way ERA operates.

“The NGOs agree that all documentation related to particular decisions, including the ERA’s minutes should be made public and that hearings should take place in a public manner,” said Ramblers president Ingram Bondin.

“In order to be effective, this would require the adoption of a system similar to the one used by the Planning Authority. This includes the affixion of public notices related to upcoming decisions, the publishing of documentation on an online portal and the publication of decisions in the Government Gazette for appeal purposes.”

Bondin said the NGOs also strongly agree that environmental organisations should be granted an automatic judicial interest in appeals from the ERA decisions in front of the Environment and Planning Revision Tribunal. “This would end the outdated practice of refusing to hear appeals from NGOs, when these are in fact representing a public interest. The NGOs stress that this would do away with an obsolete practice which has already been suppressed in higher legal fora.”

“We urge the government to give serious consideration to the bill in order to improve the legal framework and operation of the environmental regulator.”