Labour leader Joseph Muscat met with a delegation from Din l-Art Helwa.
A new Labour government will consider the construction of a yacht marina through land reclamation, Opposition leader Joseph Muscat said this morning.
Muscat met a delegation of Din l-Art Helwa at the Labour headquarters in Hamrun. He was accompanied by Labour advisor and former Nationalist Party candidate Marisa Micallef and MPs Leo Brincat and Owen Bonnici.
The Labour leader said land reclamation projects have already been completed successfully in Msida, at the Malta Freeport, Marsa and on the site of the Hotel Excelsior in Floriana.
He explained that future ventures must be "project-driven" and carried out according to a masterplan which fits in with the government's vision of sustainable development.
Pressed to give examples of such viable projects, Muscat said that there is a great demand for yacht marinas in the Mediterranean and following the permit refusal for a yacht marina in Hondoq ir-Rummien, "land reclamation offers the opportunity to construct yacht marinas which will create jobs and wealth."
Various studies, including a MEPA report state that land reclamation projects can only be viable if they are "technically, economically and environmentally feasible."
A study commissioned by concluded that land reclamation could only be feasible if it is subsequently developed on lines similar to the proposals for SmartCity, in order for the developers to recoup the considerable costs of "dumping" construction waste in to the sea to reclaim land.
Asked whether Labour took these studies in consideration, Muscat insisted that the MEPA should only deal with the planning and environmental side of things and "let the developers whether such projects are commercially viable or not."
He shot down Mepa's reports arguing that it faced pressure to keep such reports under wraps and instead claimed that such projects were not commercially viable.
Muscat added that land reclamation "will turn construction waste into a resource." However, MEPA's strategy on waste management includes a stiff warning that if "unsustainable practices in the construction industry continue" the government will have to raise tariffs on the disposal of this waste in quarries and at sea.
"We are convinced that land reclamation projects will provide added value and give a new lease of life to the construction industry," Muscat stressed.
He added that such projects will also ease the pressure on Outside Development Zones and "land reclamation will offer a solution."
"A government cannot strand still but in order to really create jobs and economic growth it must take courageous decisions."
Din l-Art Helwa president Simone Mizzi expressed her satisfaction at being given the possibility to exchange ideas and hold a dialogue with Labour on environmental and heritage protection.
On his part, Muscat said the definition of the environment "should go beyond the usual clichés" and added that environmental health is a priority for Labour. "Every government faces tensions between development and the environment and a new Labour government will not block development but we must select a kind of development we want," Muscat said.
He added developers should concentrate on "infrastructural projects" and move away from the building of blocks of apartments.