The Department of Spatial Planning and Infrastructure has the remit to focus on sustainable planning and development, and on infrastructural issues of relevance to Malta, including urban and spatial planning, landscape planning, transport planning, water and mineral resources, solid and liquid waste management, geographic information systems applied to spatial planning, related public policies and EU legislation, and environmental impact assessments.
A 2001 South African Government paper on land-use management was prefaced by the words: Land is an Asset; Land is Scarce; Land is Fragile. The words are more than appropriate for an island-state, such as Malta, with one of the highest densities of population in the world. The land-use management situation in Malta has not been helped by the fact that formal planning in Malta is still a relatively recent discipline, and that Malta has, particularly in recent history, lurched from one planning system to another, without much success; and continues to lag behind in the approach to planning when compared to the rest of Europe.
Spatial planning provides an interdisciplinary platform for mapping land-use management policies, for devising infrastructural systems, and for the moulding of the “built” environment in general. The Department needs to interact with the University’s Institute of Earth Sciences, for a more complete appreciation of the island’s environment. This Department has to address all levels of land-use planning, including urban planning, regional planning, and environmental planning, as well as the development of infrastructural support systems, (such as transport, water resources, waste management), and landscape planning. The nationally critical issues of accessibility, (both road and harbour infrastructures), of waste management, of water resources, (including sewage), and of resource husbanding, have to be addressed properly, within an overall land-use management system.
The Department is interested in corporate research on the best planning tools to adopt in Malta, working with the Institute of Sustainable Development, and Department of Geography, to encourage the use of modern tools, such as GIS, towards these problems. The Department also addresses the ever-growing range of EU policies and legislation, in the discipline, so as to be able to advise the Legislator on the best approaches to take for Malta and Gozo.
The members of the Department are currently involved in the teaching of study-units in the Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree in Built Environment Studies, which is offered by the Faculty and is offering two parttime courses leading to the degrees on Master of Spatial Planning (MSP) and Master of Science in Sustainable Infrastructure (MSc) both of which will be commencing in February 2013.
The MSP course (printable Catalogue)has been designed along the lines of similar courses which are accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and promoted by the European Council of Spatial Planners (ECTP). The students shall be trained to practice spatial planning at local, regional, national, and transnational levels, normally as leaders and/or coordinators of multi-disciplinary teams entrusted with the formulation and realisation of plans and policies, which according to the European Regional/Spatial Planning Charter, give “… geographical expression to the economic, social, cultural and ecological policies of societies.”
The MSc course focuses on concepts which are connected to the development of a sustainable infrastructure and has been designed to equip the students with tools that ensure that proposals related to infrastructural developments are assessed to factor sustainability issues. This course has the potential to benefit both the private and public sector. Within the private sector it is envisaged that the learning outcomes would contribute towards better impact assessments of projects undertaken as well as to greening the design both from a construction perspective as well as from a process related one. The public sector has a great need for sustainable development professionals.