Sant backs PN Bill to promote transparency in Environment and Resources Authority

Labour MEP says private member’s Bill “makes sense and should be given serious consideration”

Labour MEP Alfred Sant
Labour MEP Alfred Sant

Labour MEP Alfred Sant has come out in favour of a Nationalist Party private members’ bill to promote transparency within the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA).

The Bill, which amends the Environmental Protection Act, requires that ERA meetings ought to be open to the public, with its minutes made public and with the agenda communicated publicly prior to each meeting.

Sant, a former Labour prime minister who led the party from 1992 to 2008, said he agreed with the Bill’s demands. He has previously taken environmental stands that put him at loggerheads with government ministers like Ian Borg, such as his statement on the Qormi flyover.

“Not all that the Opposition proposes should be discarded. The private member’s Bill that it has put forward to make public all the formal sittings and documentation related to them of the environmental regulatory top bodies, makes sense and should be given serious consideration,” Sant said in a tweet.

Various environmental organisations have also backed the Bill.

The Bill proposed that any concerned members of the public would be given opportunities to directly participate in its proceedings, while those with a sufficient interest in the matter will have the option of undergoing a revision procedure before the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal, so as to challenge the procedural or substantive legality of any proceedings.

An appeal would have to be lodged with the Tribunal within thirty days from when ERA takes action.

Under the Bill, any NGO promoting environmental protection will be able to lodge an appeal.

The Nationalist Party announced earlier this month that it will be presenting a variety of suggestions in a private member's bill to amend the law that regulates the authority.

This came after a group of environmental and civic action NGOs wrote to the Environment Minister calling for the removal of Prof. Victor Axiak from his post as head of the Environment and Resources Authority. 

In their letter, the NGOs reiterated their call for a legal amendments to allow NGOs to have an automatic judicial interest in any appeals presented to the EPRT.

They also asked that ERA board meetings be open to the public, allowing citizens to make their representation, and that any votes taken during these meetings no longer be kept secret, but every board member’s vote logged and published. 

Both proposals seem to have been taken on board by the Nationalist Party in the Bill.