SPED being used to allow construction in cheaper ODZ land

Latest draft of Structure Plan increases loopholes in favour of development says Din l-Art Helwa

‘SPED written in such a way so projects deemed to be ‘unfeasible’ within urban areas can be built outside development zones (ODZ) land is cheaper and much more accessible, such as in the case of Zonqor Point.’
‘SPED written in such a way so projects deemed to be ‘unfeasible’ within urban areas can be built outside development zones (ODZ) land is cheaper and much more accessible, such as in the case of Zonqor Point.’

The successor of Malta’s Structure Plan, the draft Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED) will widen planning loopholes to leave the road wide open for development outside building zones, Din l-Art Helwa has warned.

DLH president Simone Mizzi told a parliamentary committee for the environment on Monday that the  aim of a robust Structure Plan was to define the use of space and land for the nation for several years.

“An honourable government will ensure it has been drafted responsibly to protect land which is our most important resource. However the opposite is set to take place if the latest draft of this all important national policy is approved in Parliament,” Mizzi said.

21 eNGOs have encouraged the public to attend the rally in favour of the environment on Saturday 20 June, after a controversial private university was proposed inside a natural park at Zonqor Point.

Mizzi said that the draft SPED had been written in such a way so projects deemed to be ‘unfeasible’ within urban areas can be built outside development zones (ODZ) land is cheaper and much more accessible, such as in the case of Zonqor Point.

“Also of great concern is that projects deemed to be of a ‘sustainable’ nature are similarly to be permitted in ODZ areas. The criteria of sustainability is a very broad one which cannot easily be defined. Sustainability of development can be applied to most projects, making it legal for all sorts of construction to take place in ODZ, including rural and coastal areas which are so sought after by developers for easy and quick gain,” Mizzi said.

The NGO demanded yet again that the clauses allowing projects to take place in ODZ simply because they may be deemed unfeasible in urban zones, and permitting projects that favour sustainability, to be taken out of the SPED.

“These loosely-applied terms go totally against the spirit of the legislation which is to give clear, precise and well defined direction to the nation on the use of space over the next decade. The words ‘feasibility’ and ‘sustainability’ should be struck off, or else be clearly defined.

“To do this the Structure Plan should go back to the drawing board to be rewritten as the serious document it is intended to be, and include detailed plans and policies for every area of the Maltese islands,” Mizzi said.

“The Prime Minister promised protection for the environment in the 2013 general elections manifesto, yet Zonqor Point is yet further evidence that show his intentions are the complete opposite,” Mizzi added.

The NGO has proposed a moratorium on all large scale and institutional construction projects till the Structure Plan (SPED) can be correctly defined.

More in Environment