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, urban design, 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, urban governance, regional development and environmental impact assessments. Members of this Department are involved in research, teaching, and consultancy in the above fields.
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. Our 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.
Our Department is interested in corporate research on the best planning tools to adopt in Malta, working with the Institute of Sustainable Development, and the 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.