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Attard councillor ‘sick and tired’ of inaction on Wied Incita quarry

Alternattiva Demokratika councillor Ralph Cassar says Wied Incita land was leased on condition that the quarry be rehabilitated after the excavations ceased

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
17 August 2016, 3:14pm
AD Local councillor Ralph Cassar said it is unacceptable to use public land for the proposed industrial park.
AD Local councillor Ralph Cassar said it is unacceptable to use public land for the proposed industrial park.
The sign at the entrance of the quarry says it is run by BilVen Ltd, whose director is also a director of Bilom
The sign at the entrance of the quarry says it is run by BilVen Ltd, whose director is also a director of Bilom
An Attard local councillor who has been trying to raise awareness of illegalities at the Bilom Wied Incita quarry for 24 years says he is sick and tired of fighting inaction by the authorities.

The plans by construction company Bilom to transform the quarry, into a new industrial park for small and medium enterprises has sparked a storm of protest from residents, environmental groups and the local council.

In comments to MaltaToday, Ralph Cassar, who is Alternattiva Demokratika's only representative on the council said it was unacceptable to use public land for the proposed industrial park.

“The new application for the industrial park is on public land - in my opinion it is unacceptable to change the use of the said land – the contract and more recently the central local plan should be respected.”

He said the land was leased on condition that the quarry be rehabilitated after the excavations ceased.

“The lease holders have failed to abide by conditions that go back to 1967,” Cassar claims. “The conditions stipulate that the areas where rock excavation is exhausted have to be rehabilitated within 12 months. There is not one square metre of land that has been rehabilitated since 1967. No Minster or Commissioner of Lands ever saw that the conditions are enforced. It's a case study in mismanagement and bad governance.”

“I have been following the Wied Inċita saga since at least 1992, frankly I am sick and tired of the inertia and lack of interest of one government after the other of managing public land in the public interest. The issue is not quarrying per se - the issue is the laissez-faire attitude of governments and the lack of enforcement of contractual obligations.

Cassar says the quarrying activities were not monitored adequately, but the situation was worsened in 1996, when the practise of dumping construction/excavation waste in quarries started, as this was also not sufficiently monitored.

The councillor's fatigue, after nearly a quarter of a century raising awareness about the issue - eventually taking the operators to court through the Local Council, is understandable. “It's very frustrating and tiring. And all through these years those who are supposed to enforce the law sit pretty. Sickening!”


Four years of discussions with the owners through the council's action committee Bord Azzjoni Wied Incita had proven fruitless.

The council argues that an enforcement order had been issued by Mepa but that work had continued unabated.

The council had filed three judicial protests - two on the 8th of June 2009 against MEPA for not forcing the company to address the problem  and against the Commissioner of Lands as the company had gone outside the remit of its rock cutting concession. Another was filed on February 9th 2012  against Rainbowmix Concrete Limited and Sand and Gravel Limited. No reply was received to the last judicial protest.

A court case was then filed in 2015 against Rainbowmix Concrete Limited and Sand and Gravel Limited, MEPA and the Commissioner of Lands.

In that case, the council is asking the court to declare the structures already built on the site as having been built illegally, hold the defendants responsible for the damage caused to the valley and order them to stop dumping waste from them and expanding their footprint.

The case is still ongoing.

The Council has yet to discuss the latest application, which is still at the screening stage, however it has repeatedly asked for the rehabilitation of the areas of the quarries where rock cutting has been exhausted to the original state.

Quarry “still in sporadic use”, says resident


One of the quarry's neighbours, who asked not to be named, told the MaltaToday that although quarry operations should have stopped, the noise of pneumatic drills continues to echo through the night, the premises was still guarded by a watchman and the mound of debris was growing larger. “Noise pollution kills,” the neighbour said, pointing to a study by the WHO which found that exposure to noise pollution was linked to cardiovascular problems, as well as harming cognitive performance in children.

“There are no green lungs left in Attard,” said the concerned neighbour, adding that the fine dust particles from the quarry were causing some of her family members to suffer from asthma.

Cassar argues that rather than an industrial park, the valley's natural biodiversity should be used to good effect. “Attard has become incredibly urbanised - it would be good if Wied Incita and its surrounding areas are turned into a nature park and wooded area - but probably I'm asking too much.”

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...