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PN Leader Bernard Grech Proposes Changes To Planning Authority’s Rural Policy

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In a press statement, PN leader Bernard Grech said that changes will be proposed to the Planning Authority’s existing Rural Policy and Design Guidance (RGDP).

The revised ‘rural plan’ will be drawn up following public consultation and will offer clearer guidelines of what can be permitted in outside development zones so that only authentic agricultural structures are allowed.

It will aim to further ensure the safeguarding of Malta’s environment and make sure that speculative development is not permitted.

“The public is fast losing countryside to enjoy, agricultural land to provide food security, and natural beauty that is also a cornerstone for our tourism industry. The concretisation of our rural areas is also causing increased flooding and loss of biodiversity. With all of this in mind, decisions need to be taken, and PN is not afraid of taking such decisions. We need to fight back,” PN said in a statement.

PN had previously said that it will propose a two-thirds majority in the House when major projects are to be permitted in outside development zones.

“Genuine developments like rubble walls, country roads, reservoirs, agricultural structures, and livestock farms will continue to be allowed and permitted by Planning Authority but projects like those of Sadeen in Żonqor will not. Such developments would require a change in the rural plan, which will require two-thirds majority support in Parliament. So it is the change in plan that needs to go to Parliament, not the planning application itself,” PN explained.

The PN also commented on the loopholes that are being found within the policies, placing agricultural land under even more threat.

“There has also been an increased propensity to develop ODZ land for speculative projects, including through finding loopholes in policies, thanks to the Planning Authority being taken over by the Labour government, as happened with most institutions over the past few years,” PN said.

The PN emphasised that the aim of the revised policy would be to make sure that the environment is not falling victim to speculative development and that agricultural land is safeguarded and left for its actual use.

The Policy currently exists as a reference point to what is permissible on agricultural land and offers guidance on rural developments, and was last updated in 2020.

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When Sasha (formerly known as Sasha Tas-Sigar) is not busy writing about environmental injustice, she's either shooting film or out at sea. She's passionate about society and the culture that made her. Follow her at @saaxhaa on Instagram, and send her anything related to the environment, art, and women's rights at [email protected]

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