Fabian Demicoli

MEPA reform: Developers meeting

 

GRTU presented MEPA Chairman Austin Walker last week with its preliminary proposal regarding the MEPA reform, based on the general perception of the developers.

 

 

GRTU's position was built through a cause and effect analysis and the identification of problems were analysed by asking:

What is the problem?

Who is affected?

When does it occur?

Where does it occur?

The meeting was chaired by Paul Abela- President; Vincent Farrugia- Director General  and Sandro Chetcuti- President of Developers Section at GRTU. Vincent Farrugia explained that  the central problem in MEPA is one of managment. The main identified problems identified are as follows:

Improving the decision process at all levels with related accountability timeliness and consistency

Improve management structure by reviewing performance of key people in key positions.  Consider merging the roles of the directors (i.e. DG, DOP and DOE) into one as a CEO function.  If necessary consider golden handshakes to remove staff.

Improve  current liaison office into a fully fledged customer Call Centre (possibly with extended hours)  

Consider the removal of chessclock mechanism in Development Control 

Set up one full time DCC board with competent professionals (good remuneration) with environmental permitting competencies included.

Review workings of Major Projects as a negotiating team

Set up continual training programs for DC staff

Initiate process of merging the Development Planning Act and the Environmental Act.

To be able to tackle current backlog within the ODZ team ( around 900 cases)  the introduction or redeployment of 5 case officers is necessary

Consider the introduction of MEPA being made liable to damage due to its administrative mistakes.

Streamline DC consultation process (one stop shop) however outside agencies should bear responsibility for non-response.  (Exception : Museums Department)

Development Briefs for Government projects should be done outside of MEPA

Review of local plans (rationalization sites)  needs a more professional approach

New Structure Plan to be published (sustainable development to be the main driving force

Review the setting up of an EIA Commission (on the Dutch Model)

These points obtained unanimous agreement amongst the floor composed of the property section of GRTU, some other points were however raised. A prominent point was that the chairman should meet regularly with the employees at MEPA to give them one direction.

The developer's section has been hurt numerous times by the inefficiencies and inconsistencies of MEPA, a case in point being that when one has a deemed approval MEPA should be obliged to issue the permit and not be subject to interpretation. More importantly when a permit is issued it must not be revoked afterwards.

It was agreed that MEPA should never unless in extraordinary circumstances move away from what is written in black and white. When MEPA decides to differ from what is written this should be given to everyone. For extraordinary cases where the written procedures do not give clear enough guidelines a board should be set up to decide. The are several mistakes and missing parts in the Local Plan and therefore it should be redone for 2008 and only this would apply and the ones before become irrelevant. This would alleviate the problem with interpretation.

It was emphasised that there should be a period of time in which objectors can complain and that any changes in MEPA guidelines should undergo a transition period, in which the change is not applicable to pending cases.

GRTU will be meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss the proposals in more detail. Any comments regarding the reform are welcome.

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