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Government finds land to relocate illegal scrap yard
Relocation justified because of increase in demand from foreign markets and a greater supply of metal scrap.
12 July 2012, 12:00am
One of the largest illegal scrap yards in Malta, Ta' Gasparell in Birzebbuga, which was sealed off by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) in 2009, is set to be re-located to Hal Far on a site presently submerged by seven-metre high construction waste rubble which was illegally dumped there in the past.
An Environmental Impact Assessment recently on the proposed relocation reveals that the operators have been "seeking help from various government agencies" to find a suitable place for their operations "following an enforcement order by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority on the Birżebbuġa site".
This request for help did not fall in to deaf ears as Malta Investment Parks (MIP), the government agency managing government property and land for industrial use allocated this portion of land in the Ħal Far Industrial Estate where the Gasparell Baling Co Ltd could locate its operations.
The EIA also claims that the relocation is justified because of the expansion of business activities due to an increase in demand from foreign markets and a greater supply of metal scrap.
One of the largest illegal scrap yards in Malta, Ta' Gasparell in Birzebbuga, was sealed off by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (Mepa) in a direct action operation aimed to ensure that no more metal scrap would enter this site.
This site overlooks the picturesque valley of Wied Zembaq and is surrounded by areas of ecological and archaeological importance that include Borg in-Nadur and the Ghar Dalam prehistoric site across the valley. The high landscape value of this area has been compromised following the continual illegal use and sprawl of this scrap yard.
The new site lies just off the Triq Hal Far, an arterial road which leads from Ħal Far to the Freeport at Birżebbuġa. It has an area of approximately 5,000m2 and forms part of a larger area of 53,700m2 of land, which was transferred to the Malta Industrial Parks Limited (MIP) from the Lands Department in 2004.
Originally, the site formed part of Ħal Far airfield at the time when the British Services occupied the Island. In the 1980's the site was used as a concrete batching plant by Konkos Ltd.
The proposed development will consist of an office block and three large units and a basement, which will be, used for End of Life Vehicle facility and as a brass/ Aluminium and Copper workshops, a shredder and baling unit and a stockpile area. The development will include two water reservoirs, which will collect runoff water from the building roofs and also from the open areas. The floor area of all parts of the development will be covered with an impermeable concrete layer to prevent any contamination of the underground rock strata.
Potential impacts and risks mainly relate to contamination of the mean sea level aquifer by dispersal of heavy metals and other materials contained in vehicles.
The Landscape Value assessment showed that the proposed development will have a very low impact on the surrounding landscape, mainly from the few points from where parts of it would be visible.
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...