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Robert Musumeci Raises Several Questions About PN’s Plan For MPs To Vote On All ODZ Development

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Planning law lecturer and legal consultant Robert Musumeci has asked the Nationalist Party for details about its recent proposal for all ODZ development proposals to require a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

“Will this apply for all ODZ development, including reservoirs, farming buildings, greenhouses, rural pathways, rubble walls, farms and stables, alternations to homes and rehabilitations of farmhouses?” Musumeci questioned.

“Will it mean that architects will have to file applications to the Planning Authority and their plans will then pass on to the Speaker rather than the planning board?”

“Will architects and lawyers be able to help their client make their case in front of Parliament?”

Musumeci also asked whether MPs will be bound to any set criteria or whether they will be free to vote according to their conscience, and whether MPs who have already expressed their opinion on the plans will be allowed to vote.

He went to ask whether planning applicants will be able to appeal rejected applications and if so, under which body and whether appeals will be limited to complaints made on a point of law. 

On a broader level, he warned that the proposal could fly in the face of recommendations by the Venice Commission for Malta to ensure separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judiciary arms of government. 

“How will this apply when all of a sudden the legislative will take on executive powers?” he asked. 

Yesterday, Opposition leader Bernard Grech pledged that a future PN government will only now development on ODZ land if it is approved by a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

He said that only projects which benefit the community, like schools or hospitals, will be allowed.

Questioned by MaltaToday at a press conference today, PN chief spokesperson Peter Agius said ODZ applications for agricultural works won’t require a parliamentary vote under the party’s plan and that every development that is currently permissible will remain so.

“We propose different classifications of ODZ development and clear rules, so that the heritage of the next generations is safeguarded,” he said.

PN chief strategist Chris Peregin said the point of the proposal is to stop future governments from taking up large tracts of ODZ land for national projects, as was done a few years ago when the government passed on land at Żonqor Point to the American University of Malta.

“In such cases, we want to discourage this by forcing government to obtain two-thirds majority support in Parliament, which means even the Opposition would have to agree to the extraordinary requirement to take up ODZ land,” he said.
“Obviously this cannot come at the expense of genuine upgrades of roads, reservoirs, rubble walls or agricultural infrastructure, so new rules need to be put in place that classify different development applications, as Kamra Tal-Periti has long proposed.”
“No, the point is not to have Parliament become a Planning Authority. The point is to create a real barrier for governments to keep developing ODZ land when they do not need to.”

Do you agree with the PN’s proposal?

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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