Jiem Chris Fearne magħduda

L-istejjer dwar Carmen Ciantar u dawk ta’ madwarha għadhom ħerġin. Jissemmew il-miljuni kif ukoll dettalji dwar minn fejn ġew. Flus li għaddew għand dentista għadha zgħira fl-età, li, imma, avvanzat sewwa fil-Ministeru mmexxi minn Chris Fearne. Hi referenza għal miljuni ġejjin minn passaporti li nbiegħu lil xi Russi.

Mhux jonqsu stejjer dwar Chris Fearne ukoll.

Il-morsa qed tagħfas. Qed jissemmew il-miljuni.

Mhux ta’ b’xejn li Carmen Ciantar qed tiġri wara l-Pulizija biex (forsi) jinvestigaw.

L-istejjer, fil-parti l-kbira tagħhom, jirreferu għal dak li seta ġara xi żmien ilu. Dan ifisser li jekk l-informazzjoni hi minnha, kollha kemm hi inkella parti biss, xi ħadd żammha mistura bħala arma biex jiddefendi ruħu meta jkun fir-rokna.

Il-messaġġ hu ċar għal min irid jifhmu: mhemmx x’tagħżel bejniethom.

Issa qed iduru għal xulxin. Għax jekk jinżel wieħed, jinżlu miegħu lkoll kemm huma!

Il-Gvern tal-Labour ABZ mill-ambjent

F’Jum l-Ambjent, il-Gvern ABZ mill-ambjent u mill-impatti ambjentali

Jum l-ambjent, din is- sena, għal darba oħra, ma jfissirx affarijiet sbieħ. Ġimgħa wara l-oħra ħlief aħbarijiet li huma ta’ ħsara ambjentali m’hawnx.

L-istorja tan-Nigret li, suppost tkompli għada, hi waħda minn tal-aħħar.  Art barra miż-żona tal-iżvilupp (ODZ) ingħatat għall-bini mill-Gvern tal-PN. Il-Labour fil-Gvern jista’ jżommha milli tinbena, imma ma għamel xejn u ma hu ser jagħmel xejn.

Il-bieraħ kellna lill-Ministru għall-Finanzi jgħidilna li bil-mudell ekonomiku tiegħu, f’Malta ser ikollna 800,000 ruħ sas-sena 2040. Meta ikkunsidrajt sur Clyde l-impatti ta’ dawn kollha fuq l-ambjent?

Ir-residenti tal-Belt huma irrabjati għax il-Belt Valletta qed tkun ittransformata f’ċentru ta’ divertiment, bi storjbu sotanzjali matul il-lejl.

Il-Gvern ma jimpurtaħx minn dan kollu. Għax filwaqt li għandna ħafna tejatrin għaddej dwar l-ambjent, fir-realtà il-Gvern tal-Labour hu ABZ mill-ambjent u mill-impatti ambjentali.

Greening the Constitution

Within another ten months, the presidency of George Vella will have come to and end. His enthusiasm for a Constitutional Convention, so far, did not lead to any known tangible results. Covid-19, definitely did not help.

The debate of entrenching environmental protection in the Constitution, thereby reducing or completely removing governmental discretion as to when it can act, is healthy. It signifies recognition that we cannot trust the executive with exercising reasonable discretion, as it has not to date been reasonable in the way it has acted on environmental stewardship.

Let us start at the very beginning. Our Constitution, in its second chapter, contains declaratory provisions which establish a number of basic objectives of government, amongst which the environmental objectives to be attained. The environmental objectives, which were amplified in a recent amendment to the Constitution, moved by then Environment Minister José Herrera, are, in terms of the Constitution itself, fundamental to the governance of the country. They cannot, however, be enforced in a Court of Law. This means that in practice these environmental provisions of the Constitution are for all intents and purposes a dead letter. They need to be enforceable, the soonest, as my party has repeatedly emphasised both in its electoral manifesto in various elections as well as in its submissions to the now stalled Constitutional Convention.

It is now being suggested by the PN that the environment should be a human right entrenched in the Constitution. What does this mean? I think that what has been stated so far is a wrong choice of words. The environment cannot be and is not a human right. What they most probably mean is that access to a protected environment should be a guaranteed human right.  This is a tall order and it signifies that the PN has to reverse a substantial number of its policies in order to be credible: first on the list it needs to reverse its commitment to the 2006 rationalisation plan for consistency. We will wait and see what they really have in mind.

Environmental protection in the Constitution should, in my view, mean ensuring that humans respect the eco-system of which, together with plants and other animals we all form part. It should mean protection of biodiversity, both fauna and flora as well as their habitats. It should also signify the protection of the aquifer as this is not and should not be considered as private property. It also signifies a recognition of the national value of historical heritage.

Unfortunately, the Constitution emphasises in the minutest of details the need to protect private property but then it ignores the significance and the intrinsic value of the eco-system of which we form part and which belongs to all of us.

Reference to the natural environment in the Constitution should be eco-centric and not anthropocentric. This means that when considering the environment, the Constitution should deal with the protection of the rights of nature and not human rights. It is about time that we should start thinking about the rights of nature and link this with the rights of future generations who have a right to breathe unpolluted air and drink unpolluted water and enjoy nature in all its aspects. This is our common heritage and we should handle it with care.

Environmental references in our Constitution should ensure that after years of preaching sustainability we can, maybe, translate our beliefs into legal tools in order that governments are bound to implement sustainable policies.

As things stand the Constitution provides guiding principles when dealing with environmental issues. This has proven to be insufficient as none of the Maltese governments since 1964 has acted in accordance with this constitutional guidance.

If we are to learn anything from the current mess it is that the way forward is to spell out clear environmental objectives which tie the hands of governments.

Greening the Constitution could be a first step in bring our house in order. At the end of the day, however, the Courts must be in a position to be able to instruct government to carry out its duty when it has failed to do so.

published on The Malta Independent on Sunday: 4 June 2023

Ħrejjef? Ferm il-bogħod mill-Pakistan.

L-istorja ippubblikata f’gazzetta fil-Pakistan nhar il-31 ta’ Mejju dwar Carmen Ciantar hi interessanti. Storja attribwita lil Ram Tumuluri tal-Vitals Global Health Care. L-istess wieħed li qal li ġie mhedded li jekk ma jbaxxix rasu, jispiċċa bħal Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Jekk hux storja li għandha mill-verità jew le m’għandix idea.

Hemm min qed jgħid, inkluża Ciantar innifisha, li din hi gidba: mill-bidu sal-aħħar. Possibilment li din (il-gidba) hi parti minn kampanja ta’ diżinformazzjoni li għaddejja bħalissa. Jidher li hemm min qed jinkwieta li żmien il-kontijiet wasal.

Però, kif qed jgħidu oħrajn, il-mira mhiex Carmen Ciantar iżda Chris Fearne, Deputat Prim Ministru u Ministru tas-Saħħa. Dan hu spjegabbli fil-kuntest tal-argument bejn il-ħbieb li għaddej bħalissa bejn Kastilja u Burmarrad. Fir-realtà dan hu ħafna iktar qrib mill-Pakistan. L-aqwa, imma, li illum il-Prim qalilna li hu għandu fiduċja sħiħa fi Chris Fearne! Eżattament, kulħadd hu konvint minn dan bla ebda dubju!

Jista’ jkun li hemm min irid itellef lil Chris Fearne il-ħatra bħala Kummissarju tal-Unjoni Ewropeja f’isem Malta s-sena d-dieħla. Dan qed jiġri wara x-xniegħa li jidher li ma rnexxewx żewġ attentati biex Fearne jitneħħa minn Ministru tas-Saħħa tul dawn l-aħħar tlett snin.

Qed ngħixu tabilħaqq fi żminijiet interessanti.

Huma mistennija stejjer jew possibilment ħrejjef oħra li jkomplu jibnu fuq din tal-Pakistan jew minn fejn tabilħaqq bdiet.

In-Nigret: more agricultural land to be bulldozed

The local plans are seven in number. They are supplemented by a land use planning rationalisation exercise. This consists of the identification of land outside the development zone (ODZ), approximately 2 million square metres in area, on the outskirts of existing urban areas and settlements all over the islands. In July 2006, Parliament, decided that this ODZ land was suitable for development.

The PN led government had then proposed and voted in favour of developing this ODZ land with the Labour Opposition voting against the proposal. But come March 2013 nothing changed as a result of the change in government. Notwithstanding that Labour in Opposition had voted against the proposal, the ODZ land remained within the development zone. All two million square metres of it. As aptly underlined by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa in his Il Gattopardo: the more things appear to change the more they remain the same. Greed is in fact colour blind.

Today, almost 17 years after the event, our local communities are realising what that Parliamentary vote signifies. Together with my colleagues I have been all around the island on a regular basis discussing with residents the resulting overdevelopment which is eating up agricultural land at a fast rate. Most localities are impacted.

This week it is the turn of agricultural land at In-Nigret, on the outskirts of Żurrieq, where more agricultural land will soon be cleared for development. Residents are up in arms as they have realised that another 14,960 square metres of arable agricultural land will be shortly developed. Two particular applications for planning control have been submitted (PC85/18 and PC49/19). The former application has already been approved last year while the second application will be considered shortly: it has already been recommended for approval by the Planning Directorate at the Planning Authority.

The planning process currently in hand is concerned with zoning and with determining the extent of permissible development, that is the permissible height and the development density. The development has however already been approved in principle 17 years ago. Unfortunately, notwithstanding the efforts of my party as well as those of environmental NGOs, residential communities ignored the warning signs staring them in the face. Now that the threat of destructive development is approaching individual communities, they are realising that they have been taken for a ride for quite some time. They are now awakening from their blissful slumber, suddenly realising that those whom they trusted all along have betrayed them by giving up for development the open spaces surrounding our settlements and urban areas.

Giving up agricultural land for building development does not make any sense. This is not just an objective argument in favour of protecting agricultural land. It is also essential to protect the green lungs around our urban areas and settlements.

What sense does it make to embark on a €700 million spending spree on the greening of our urban environment and then, simultaneously to bulldoze through our fertile fields? Project Green, if it is to have any worth should first and foremost seek to protect our existing green lungs. This applies not only to the Nigret fields facing the bulldozer in the coming months. It also applies all around the islands to each and every one of the two million square metres of ODZ land which Parliament, 17 years ago, earmarked for development.

The question being asked is: what can be done about it? Is it not too late to act after 17 years? There are very few avenues which can be explored at this late hour but there are some possibilities which hopefully can be utilised to defend the little we have been left with. 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 21 May 2023

L-Awtorità tax-Xandir: għalfejn qegħda hemm?

Xi ġimgħat ilu iddeċidejna bħala partit li nħarsu sewwa lejn il-media politika (ONE u NET) u l-fatt li dawn kienu qed jinjorawna. Għalihom qiesna ma neżistux. Hekk jixtiequ fil-fatt, għax jidhrilhom li l-eżistenza tagħna hi xkiel għalihom. Jidhrilhom li ntellfuhom.

Meta ilmentajna mal-Edituri tal-ONE u tan-NET dwar il-fatt li ma jirrappurtawniex, it-tnejn li huma, għall-ewwel weġbuna bl-istess mod: dak li jxandru hu fi-diskrezzjoni editorjali tagħhom.

Sussegwentement, imma, in-NET bidel id-diska. L-ewwel beda jxandar xi affarijiet żgħar, imbagħad beda jxandar ftit iktar. Li ġara kien li ċempilli s-Segretarju Ġenerali tal-PN Michael Piccinino. Niftakar kont Brussels u ċempilli biex infurmani li qalulu bl-ilmenti ta’ ADPD u li hu kien ta’ struzzjonijiet biex dawn ikunu indirizzati. Kien pass tajjeb il-quddiem.

Kien hemm kambjament fuq in-NET. Beda jkun hemm rappurtaġġ avolja mhux ta’ xi kwalità. Kif mistenni joqgħodu attenti biex filwaqt li jirrappurtaw, ħafna drabi fuq fuq, iħallu barra fejn jinqaras il-PN. Dik kont nistenniha, avolja, jekk irridu xandir sura din trid tinqata’ ukoll.

Fil-kaz tal-ONE imma bqajna l-istess. Baqgħu għaddejjin b’ċensura politika totali fl-interess tal-Partit Laburista u kontra l-obbligi li jirriżultaw mill-liċenzja li għandhom.

F’Marzu kellna deċiżjoni li kienet l-ewwel waħda tax-xorta tagħha fejn l-Awtorità tax-Xandir laqgħet ilment ta’ ADPD u ordnat lil ONE ixandru rapport qasir dwar dak li kienu iċċensuraw. Dan kien ġie imxandar, b’geddum sal-art! Is-suġġett dakinnhar kien dwar l-isptarijiet, dwar Vitals u Stewards Health Care!

Il-bieraħ kellna kaz ieħor, dwar il-fatt li xi politiċi qegħdin viċin wisq ta’uħud fin-negożju u li dan hu perikoluż għad-demokrazija. Il-bieraħ l-Awtorità tax-Xandir ħabbret li laqgħet l-ilment tagħna. Qaltilna li għandna raġun. Imma din id-darba ma tatx rimedju. Ma ħarget l-ebda ordni lil ONE biex ixandar fil-qosor dak li kien ġie ċċensurat.

Ngħiduha kif inhi: dan it-tip ta’ rimedju hu essenzjalment wieħed simboliku imma hu meħtieġ.

Imma ma jagħmilx sens li l-Awtorità tax-Xandir tgħidli li għandi raġun, imma fl-istess nifs tgħidli biex nieħu paċenzja.

Għax ngħiduha kif inhi: f’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi għalfejn għandna awtorità?

Skuża (komda) ta’ Kabinett kompliċi

Ħareġ rapport ieħor tal-Awditur Ġenerali dwar il-kuntratt li l-Labour fil-Gvern ta’ lill-Vitals Global Health Care. Kuntratt li spiċċa għand Steward Health Care.

L-Awditur Ġenerali qed jirrapporta li l-Ministri,msieken iħossuhom li ġew żgwidati minn Konrad Mizzi, seħibhom fil-Kabinett!

Melal0Ministri mzazen, jilbilgħu kull ma jisimgħu?

Xi skuża komda biex tagħlaq għajnejk għall-korruzzjoni! Kollha flimkien iridu jerfgħu l-piz ta’ dan il-ħmieġ. Il-Kabinett kollu hu kompliċi. Il-Kabinett kellu l-poter li jwaqqaf dan il-ħmieg u ma għamel xejn. Anzi għalaq għajnejh.

Riforma tal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar

Il-Prim Ministru Robert Abela, fid-diskors tiegħu tal-Ewwel ta’ Mejju, qal li ser jagħti bidu għal riforma fil-qasam tal-ippjanar tal-użu tal-art. Ftit li xejn ta’ dettalji. Fi kliemu, imma, kien ċar li kien qed jipprova jsewwi l-ħsara li rriżultat mill-kritika li saret f’dawn il-jiem minn żewġ Sindki Laburisti. Wieħed minnhom (Christian Zammit – Sindku tax-Xagħra) irriżenja, għax xebbgħuh. L-ieħor, Conrad Borg Manché, Sindku tal-Gżira, baqa’ għaddej. Idu msaħħa riżultat ta’ rebħa fil-Qrati li kellu kontra l-Awtorità tal-Artijiet u d-deċiżjoni tagħha li tieħu lura biċċa mill-ġnien tal-Gżira biex tagħmel il-wisa’ għal pompa tal-petrol.

Bħas-soltu, l-Partit Laburista jipprova jingħoġob ma’ kulħadd. Il-Mexxej tal-Partit Laburista ifaħħar l-impenn ambjentali taż-żewġ sindki. Imma oħrajn fit-tmexxija tal-partit, fl-istess ħin, kontinwament jiddefendu lil min qed jagħmlilhom xogħolhom bħala sindki diffiċli.

Il-problema bażika tal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar hi li kontinwament tinjora ir-regoli tal-ippjanar tagħha stess. Għal din ir-raġuni, din il-ġimgħa stess, il-Qorti tal-Appell ħassret żewġ deċiżjonijiet oħra tal-istess Awtorità tal-Ippjanar.

Ir-residenti, kif ukoll uħud mill-kunsilli lokali, kontinwament qed isemmgħu leħinhom kontra kull xorta ta’ deċiżjoni tal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar. Il-permess għall-iżvilupp mill-ġdid tal-villaġġ tal-Mistra kien ħareġ għall-ewwel darba fl- 2013 għal żvilupp b’għoli ta’ tnax-il sular. Ir-residenti opponew it-tiġdid ta’ dan il-permess minħabba li dan mhux kompatibbli mar-regoli tal-ippjanar li huma fis-seħħ illum. It-Tribunal ta’ Reviżjoni għall-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar (EPRT) ma aċċettax l-appell tar-residenti, imma l-Qorti tal-Appell waqqfet kollox u bagħtet il-file lura biex il-każ ikun eżaminat mill-ġdid. Dan, il-Qorti għamlitu, għax ikkonkludiet li t-talbiet tar-residenti ma ġewx eżaminati sewwa mill-EPRT.

Fid-dawl ta’ din id-deċiżjoni tal-Qorti tal-Appell ikun floku li wieħed jistaqsi “il-għala, dawk li jieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet tal-ippjanar, kontinwament jinjoraw ir-regoli”? Xi snin ilu kien l- Ombudsman innifsu li wasal għall-istess konklużjoni.

Dan il-kaz mhux xi eċċezzjoni!

Nhar l-Erbgħa, l-Qorti tal-Appell, tat deċiżjoni oħra, din id-darba dwar żvilupp fil-Mellieħa. Aċċettat appell li sar mill-Kunsill Lokali tal-Mellieħa u ħassret permess ta’ żvilupp għal-lukanda (bil-faċilitajiet anċillari għaliha) liema permess kien inħareg f’żona fejn dan l-iżvilupp ma jistax isir ħlief f’ċirkustanzi eċċezzjonali. Din il-lukanda ta’ tmien sulari hi konnessa mal-interessi tal-iżviluppatur Għawdxi Joseph Portelli.

L-applikazzjoni għall-ewwel kien hemm il-parir dwarha (bil-miktub) biex din tkun rifjutata. Imma l-Kummissjoni għall-Kontroll tal-Iżvilupp ma qablitx ma’ dan u approvat il-ħruġ ta’ permess. Dan il-permess ġie ikkonfermat ukoll mit-Tribunal ta’ Reviżjoni għall-Ambjent u l-Ippjanar  (EPRT). L-EPRT l-anqas ma qabel li joħroġ ordni biex ma jsirx xogħol fuq is-sit sakemm jinqata’ l-appell. Riżultat ta’ hekk, il-lukanda li issa tilfet il-permess għax dan ġie mħassar mill-Qorti tal-Appell hi issa lesta u mibnija! Ser ikunu meħtieġa alterazzjonijiet sostanzjali u probabbilment partijiet minn dik li hi lukanda jkollhom jitwaqqgħu minħabba li dan l-iżvilupp ibbenefika minn bonus ta’ żewġ sulari extra li jingħataw għall-iżvilupp tal-lukandi! Jiġifieri dawn kellhom żieda ta’ żewġ sulari fuq dak li hu normali f’dawn iż-żoni! Dawn iż-żewġ sulari ma’ jistgħux ikunu approvati f’ċirkustanzi oħra. GħaIhekk ikollhom jaqgħu!

Dan kollu juri kemm hu possibli li bir-regoli tal-ippjanar tal-lum (anke jekk hemm bosta difetti fihom) xorta hu possibli li wieħed jasal għal deċiżjonijiet raġjonevoli kif uriet il-Qorti tal-Appell!  Ovvjament id-deċiżjonijiet ikunu raġjonevoli jekk dawk li jeħduhom ikun kapaci li jimxu mar-regoli dejjem.

L-ippjanar għall-użu tal-art hu għan-nies. Kif qed nagħtu każ tan-nies fl-ippjanar għall-użu tal-art li għandna? Jekk insegwu l-kazijiet diversi hekk kif dawn jiżviluppaw, hu ċar li dawk li huma maħtura biex jassiguraw li l-affarijiet jimxu sewwa, fl-interess tan-nies u tal-kwalità tal-ħajja tagħhom, qed iħarbtu kollox. Dan hu ċar meta wieħed jara d-diversi deċiżjonijiet tal-Qorti,mhux biss dawk li nsemmi hawn fuq, imma bosta oħra ukoll.

Huwa dan li jeħtieġ li jkun indirizzat minn riforma tal-proċess tal-ippjanar għall-użu tal-art. Jeħtieġ nassiguraw li dawk li jieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet ikunu nies kapaċi jiddeċiedu sewwa: konsistenti u skond ir-regoli fis-seħħ. X’nambuhom ir-regoli jekk b’mod konsistenti jiġu injorati?

Din hi r-riforma meħtieġa fl-ippjanar għall-użu tal-art.

pubblikat fuq Illum:14 ta’ Mejju 2023

In-Nigret : iktar raba’ tajjeb ser jingħata għall-bini

Bħalissa għaddejja diskussjoni dwar applikazzjoni PC 049/19 dwar art agrikola fin-Nigret biex din tinbena. Kellmuna bosta dwar dan.

L-art hi kbira: 11,500 metru kwadru (iva ħdax-il elf u ħames mitt metru kwadru), ftit iktar minn għaxart itmiem.

Hemm kważi 1500 oġġezzjoni għal din l-applikazzjoni li dalwaqt tkun deċiża.

Ftit jirrealizzaw li d-deċiżjoni ilha li ittieħdet mill-2006 biex din l-art tkun tajba għal bini. Id-deċiżjoni ħadha l-Partit Nazzjonalista fil-Gvern permezz tal-Kabinett ta’ Lawrence Gonzi: fuq quddiem il-Ministru George Pullicino.

Dakinnhar Alternattiva Demokratika u l-għaqdiet ambjentali oġġezzjonaw. Il-Labour fl-Opposizzjoni, dakinnhar, fil-Parlament ivvota kontra, imma hekk kif tela’ fil-Gvern ħalla kollox kif kien.

Fl-aħħar programm elettorali ADPD biss insitiet li din l-art m’għandhiex tinbena.

Ir-rapport tal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar tlesta u jġib id-data tal-11 ta’ Mejju 2023: jirrakkomanda li l-art għandha tinbena: tlett sulari.

Reforming the Planning Authority

Prime Minister Robert Abela, during his May Day speech, hinted that he will embark on a land use planning reform. His speech was very scant on details. It was however clearly an exercise in damage control after the Labour Party has faced sharp criticism from two of its own Mayors, one of whom (Christian Zammit – Xagħra Mayor) has quit the party in disgust. The other, Conrad Borg Manché, Gżira Mayor, soldiers on. His hand has been strengthened as a result of the Gżira Court case win against the Lands Authority and its decision to reduce the size of the Gżira public garden to make way for a fuel station.

The Labour Party is, as always, running with the hares and simultaneously hunting with the hounds. Party Leader Robert Abela lauds his “environmentalist” mayors. Others within the Labour Party hierarchy, however, are busy defending those who are making their life miserable.

The problem with the Planning Authority is that basically it is ignoring its own policies which it is stretching well beyond any elastic limit. Only this week, for this very reason, the Court of Appeal has cancelled two land use planning decisions.

Residents, and some local councils, are up in arms against all sorts of decisions being taken by the Planning Authority. The permit relative to the Mistra Village re-development was originally issued by the Planning Authority in 2013 for a 12-floor high-rise development. The renewal of the development permit was contested by residents on the grounds of its incompatibility with currently existing planning policies. The Environment Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT) shot down the residents’ appeal but the Court of Appeal thought otherwise and sent the case back to the drawing board. The Court of Appeal has pointed out that the EPRT had not examined adequately the applicable planning policies to ascertain or otherwise the residents’ claims.

In view of this Court of Appeal decision it is pertinent to ask as to why those taking planning decisions continuously ignore planning policies? Some years back it was the Ombudsman himself who had arrived at a similar conclusion.

This is not a one-off case.

Last Wednesday the Court of Appeal delivered another decision relative to a development in Mellieħa and accepted the Mellieħa Local Councl’s appeal to cancel a development permit for a hotel with related amenities in an area where the local plan forbids hotel development, except in extraordinary circumstances. This eight-floor hotel is linked to the extensive commercial interests of Gozitan construction magnate Joseph Portelli.

The original written recommendation for a refusal of the application was overturned by the Planning Commission. The development permission wassubsequently confirmed by the EPRT. The EPRT also refused to issue an order to halt construction until the planning appeal is determined. As a result, the hotel whose permit has now been repealed is now completed! It will have to be extensively altered and possibly parts of it will now have to be demolished as the constructed hotel even benefitted from an additional two-floor bonus over and above the prevailing permissible height! These two floors are not permissible in other circumstances and will then have to be demolished.

All this proves that even on the basis of existing planning policies (which need substantial improvement) one can arrive at reasonable decisions as clearly demonstrated by the Court of Appeal, if only those running the show are capable of strictly observing the rules.

Land use planning is for people.  How are people and their needs factored in our land use planning? Following the various land use planning cases as they develop, it is clear that land use planning is hijacked by those appointed to run the show. This is crystal clear when one examines the different decisions of the Court of Appeal. This refers not just to the decisions referred to above, but to many others too!

This is what a reform of the planning process should address: ensuring that the land use planning decision takers are capable of taking decisions which are both consistent and in line with existing policy. What do we need policy for if it is consistently ignored?

This is the reform required in land use planning.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 14 May 2023