The government is drawing up a bill for Malta to have its own Environment Court where cases of an environmental nature will be heard and decided. The Minister of Environment said that lawyers have given their word that the draft law will be ready by January. Interviewed on Dissett, Dr. Herrera expressed personal reservations about the car racing track and said he intends to strengthen the Environmental Authority.
The government is hoping that a new law will add strength to the recommendations made by the Environment and Resources Authority on proposals for development projects. The Environment Minister Jose Herrera said the bill is being prepared by a lawyer, by Professor Alex Torpiano and by a technical committee.
“I intend to strengthen the ERA to the effect, that if the ERA recommends environmental considerations, these are not just recommendations, but are mandatory.”
Asked on Dissett what became of the electoral promise for an Environment Court, the Minister said that this would materialise and would help as an enforcement tool.
By January the lawyers promised that I would have the completed draft. I will create a judicial body, chaired by a judge and a criminal court, presided by Magistrate. We will have a proper Environment Court which will be the envy of other countries to give citizens rights and to enforce environmental aspects.
Asked about building outside development areas, Minister Herrera took the view that the ODZ policy need to be changed completely and said that given a choice between high rise buildings and development in ODZ areas, he preferred the former. While on the subject, the Minister was also asked what he thought about the promise for a car racing track which requires a sizeable tract of land.
“I have reservations, I want to see the plans, I want to see how it will be done, but I am not saying yes or no .”
The Minister said that the plastic bottle recycling scheme will come into force by the end of this year with the installation of a number of machines.