Agreement reached with seven quarry owners for dumping of construction waste

Seven quarry operators will be offered fiscal incentives in return for using the quarries for the dumping of construction waste

Yannick Pace
6 April 2017, 4:07pm
a number of options had been considered, but several had unfavourable consequences
a number of options had been considered, but several had unfavourable consequences
Seven empty quarries in the limits of Zurrieq will be used for the dumping of construction and demolition waste following an agreement between the government and the quarries’ operators, environment minister Jose Herrera announced this afternoon.

He added that within the next two weeks, another large quarry in the same area will also be made available.

Speaking at a media briefing at his ministry, Herrera said that government will be compensating operators for every tonne of waste they receive and will also be offering an incentive of a 10% withholding tax on this income.

Despite having the right to do so, Herrera said that the measures would not amount to a requisitioning of the quarries because the government did not want to meddle with the private sector.

"This would have involved taking from the private sector and offering compensation, however I did not want to take from the private sector," Herrera said.

Instead, the government, upon determining how much waste needed to be disposed of, would offer operators a price for taking the waste, he said, adding that the quarry operators would then have a right to contest that price in a tribunal.

“The agreement represents a breakthrough in solving a problem that has plagued the country for a long time and one which is now threatening the construction industry, which is struggling to find ways of disposing of its waste.”

"The government has an obligation to address this problem in order to prevent illegal dumping from taking place," Herrera stressed.

The minister explained that a number of options had been considered, such as the exportation of the waste, which he said would have resulted in developers incurring more costs, which will then passed on to consumers. The creation of new landfills and dumping the waste in the sea were also considered, but both would have negatively impacted the environment, he said.

Sandro Chetcuti, the president of the Malta Developers Association, said that in recent years a situation had developed where contractors were left with no options for the disposal construction and demolition waste, while quarry owners were also facing "their own problems".

He said, however, that through negotiations between all involved parties a compromise had been quickly reached resulting in seven quarries being made available with immediate effect.

Chetcuti stressed that while the urgency of the problem had now been dealt with, the country needed to think of more long-term solutions.

Herrera added that the agreement will have solved the problem for roughly the next five years.

Beyond this point, he said, bolder and more innovative solutions will have to be considered, such as applying technologies that would allow the waste to be exported and reused.

Yannick joined MaltaToday as a journalist in 2016. His main areas of interest are politics...