‘Fix our planning system’, Metsola says in seven-point ‘green manifesto’

Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola posts seven tangible suggestions on reconciling environment with economic growth

Photo taken from Roberta Metsola's Official Facebook Page
Photo taken from Roberta Metsola's Official Facebook Page

The Nationalist MEP and European Parliament vice-president Roberta Metsola has put forward seven proposals tackling sustainability in a post that calls for the transformation of Malta’s economic model.

The proposals are more of a set of tangible suggestions on reconciling environmental sustainability with economic growth, but they dwell on Maltese problems which are long overdue for resolution.

It is time we adapt our economic model to look beyond concrete and asphalt. Sustainability and liveability must become...

Posted by Roberta Metsola on Friday, June 4, 2021

One of her more tangible proposals includes incentivising restoration of empty housing in order to address Malta’s vacant properties issue. “Instead of tearing down our houses, let’s incentivise restoration and address the issue of empty residences. Instead of chopping down our trees, let’s understand that our children deserve clean air as a right. Instead of funnelling traffic from one corner to the other, let’s look at real alternatives and match our commitment with proper public investment.”

Metsola suggested further investment in the circular economy, with the creation of green industries that reuse and recycle waste material, as a means of tackling construction waste.

“Let’s fix our planning system and harness solar energy [...] let’s ensure that the system allows [our youth] the same opportunities previous generations had to own a home,” she continued.

The Nationalist MEP also pointed out that Gozo should not be forced to go down the same road as Malta, that of “bad decisions and short-termism”.

In the comments section of the post, Metsola offered a brief critique of government’s handling of the environment, accusing Labour of not having the political courage to go beyond the immediate.

“The Government’s argument is that cranes and concrete are a sign of ‘progress’ or ‘development’ and that dust, bad air and dodgy construction practices is just the price we have to pay. They are wrong,” she wrote.

Metsola’s Facebook post coincided with a State of the Nation conference that took place last Friday, during which a panel discussion took place to discuss the environment and development.

Among the speakers in the discussion was former Nationalist finance minister Tonio Fenech, who proposed a bipartisan pact enshrined in the Constitution to overhaul local plans and protect the environment.

Fenech had been part of the Nationalist government that actually reviewed the local plans in 2006, which resulted in more land being included in the development zones and for building heights to be increased in certain localities. 

He conceded that awarding planning permits wins politicians votes, and that every government fears opening this Pandora’s Box. However, what Fenech proposed signifies a radical shift in policy that would necessitate a bipartisan agreement that binds different administrations to overcome the hesitancy politicians face in dealing with the issue.

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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