The Maltese quest for the recognition of the planning profession

The Malta Chamber of Planners have finally reached some progress in its long quest for the recognition of the planning profession. In November 2018, members of the Chamber’s Council met with the Minister responsible for Planning, Dr. Ian Borg, who supported the Chamber’s proposal for obtaining recognition and encouraged the Chamber to draft the necessary legislation in this regard which he would present to Cabinet and then to Parliament. This has been a long journey for the Chamber with various previous governments showing support but not actually pushing for legislation to recognise the profession. Unfortunately, this has led over the years to a demotivation amongst planners. The Chamber hopes that this interest by the current legislature should give the planning profession the status it deserves. This promises a new start but the road is still rather long.

The recent years have shown a disregard to proper planning in the Maltese Islands. The sheer disregard to policies in the decision making process, or the wrong interpretation of policies or even redrafting policies to accommodate the developments proposed is the order of the day with little regard to the future consequences for the island and its population. The current economic boom which government is boasting about thus leading to more private investment in construction activity, new roads and the influx of foreign workers, all without any foresight to the future consequences of such a momentum will have repercussions in the future particularly in terms of the quality of life of the local population and whether such development will be sustainable in the future. 

High rise buildings are the fashion with major developers. Public land has been given out for mere speculation. Development projects are more or less the same – retail, residential, offices and tourism. The island’s population has exceeded the half a million figure which together with the almost 3 million annual tourists create pressure on the infrastructure affecting the population’s day life. Air pollution from construction dust and cars, traffic congestion, waste generation, sprawl of urban development into the countryside are some of the main factors that are leading to the unsustainable development of the island.

The State of the Environment report for the years 2009-2015 published by the Environment and Resources Authority, whilst presenting substantial information on the state of the environment, unfortunately it fails to make recommendations or identify priorities that need to be put in place to safeguard the natural environment and the population’s quality of life. It is hoped that the introduction of legislation that would finally recognise the planning profession will at long last spearhead a change which will usher in real planning in the Maltese Islands which will really make Malta and Gozo a more pleasant and desirable place to live in.