Retired judge to review ERA, PA working relationship

A MaltaToday probe had found that 69% of ODZ application approved by the Planning Authority had been objected to by the Environment watchdog

Retired judge Joseph David Camilleri will be reviewing the performance of the intra-relationships between the Environment and Resources Authority and Planning Authority.

The appointment follows a MaltaToday probe last December which revealed that the ERA had objected to 69% of ODZ applications approved by the PA.

Last month, Environment Minister José Herrera told MaltaToday that he had been “alarmed” by the findings and the ad hoc board would investigate the high percentages of cases in which ODZ applications were approved despite ERA’s objections.

“Following the first year from the MEPA demerger, the ERA and the PA faced a number of challenges with both authorities needing to strengthen their organisations in order to provide an effective and efficient regulatory service,” the ministry said in a statement.

Herrera said the government was revisiting the performance of the intra-relationships between ERA and PA, “so as to improve the communications and work relationships leading to a reduction in the difference of opinions that arise from time to time”.

“Government is sensitive to public interpretation of these occasional differences as also highlighted by the Environmental Ombudsman in his Annual Report for 2016,” Herrera said in a statement.

Following discussions with both authorities, it was agreed that an external review will be carried out.

Herrera said Camilleri was conversant with the functions of both Authorities having served as Chairperson for the Natural Heritage Advisory Committee.

“The scope of the review should lead to an increase in the efficiency of the decision making process as well as enhance public confidence,” the minister said.

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