Encouraging steps forward for a better environment

In February, the country continued to implement our shared vision for a more sustainable Malta

February may be the shortest month of the year but it was definitely not short of environmental milestones, as the country continued to implement our shared vision for a more sustainable Malta, towards determined climate actions, greener communities and a healthier quality of life.

A new Climate Action Authority

This week in Parliament we concluded the second reading of two bills that are paving the way for establishing a new Climate Action Authority. In recent years, as a country, we have made significant progress in sectors that are critical to our climate objectives.  

During the last decade, energy sector emissions decreased by 60%, while our share of renewables surged from 2% in 2012 to 13.4% in 2022. Our plan is to increase this further. Last year Malta achieved encouraging results in the implementation of our waste management plan, as Wasteserv registered the lowest landfilling levels in the last 20 years and record high figures in waste processed for recycling in a circular economy. The first 12 months of our seven-year, €700 million investment in greener localities saw the creation and regeneration of more than 110,000 square metres of gardens, parks and other green open spaces, with more than 51,500 new trees and shrubs. This is only the beginning, as we are finalising plans for many more new parks and green spaces.

The new Climate Action Authority will guide and galvanise the implementation of our country’s climate adaptation and mitigation plans, bringing all stakeholders together to contribute to this shared mission.

Turning building sites into public gardens

This month Project Green and the Lands Authority launched a new collaboration that will see 20,000 square metres of government-owned developable land allocated for new green open spaces instead of buildings.

As a first step, we identified four sites in Luqa, Kirkop, Lija and St Julian’s to create 8,000 square metres of new public gardens on land that could have been developed into 30 apartment blocks. Works on the green transformation of these sites will start later this year, in full consultation with the local councils to deliver spaces that our communities want.

New renewable energy incentives for families and businesses…

This week, we opened this year’s schemes to support families and businesses in investing in renewable energy and battery storage technologies. The Renewable Energy Scheme (ReS) is allocating €4.8 million for grants to families who install grid-connected photovoltaic panels and battery storage systems. The Feed-in Tariff (FiT) incentive offers households and businesses 15c/kWh for the generation of renewable energy for 20 years. We also announced four new bid calls for investment in larger renewable energy systems, up to one megawatt, while other calls for installations greater than that will be issued in the coming months.

…and new renewable energy opportunities at sea

While we continue to encourage more land-based renewables, we acknowledge that we must look beyond our shores to attain our decarbonisation objectives.

In response to proposals from different stakeholders, we launched a preliminary market consultation to assess the market readiness for nearshore floating photovoltaic farms in the Maltese Islands. This is an opportunity for Malta to be a frontrunner in this green technology. An initial area, at five nautical miles off Delimara has already been identified for projects with a potential 50-megawatt clean energy capacity.

Meanwhile, we are finalising preparations for a competitive process encouraging private investments in offshore floating wind farms in Malta’s exclusive economic zone.

Siċċa and Ħondoq  

The Planning Authority has just approved the dismantling of the old San Lucjan Fuel Storage Facility in Birzebbuga. A call for tenders for these works will be issued soon, so that this site can be cleared for the development of Siċċa, a new 18,000 square hub of sustainable recreational spaces, with green and blue economy investments replacing the original fuel oil storage that occupied this area. This will be a new landmark location for communities in southern Malta.

This week I also announced that following the amendments to the local plans to save Ħondoq ir-Rummien from commercial building developments, we are now working to introduce provisions to safeguard and enrich this area’s natural biodiversity. The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) is working to continue protecting this area.

Stronger environmental decisions

To ensure further environmental protection, we launched a public consultation on new regulations to increase transparency and public participation in ERA’s environmental permitting decisions. These proposals are also introducing environmental standards for certain sectors.

We want our communities to truly participate in environmental decisions to ensure transparency and the continued protection of our environmental heritage for future generations.