Closing down Sant’Antnin, ‘requires new waste management system, culture change’

Closing down Sant’Antnin won’t just require a new facility but also a culture change in how waste at home is separated and disposed of

The Sant'Antnin waste treatment plant will be relocated to Maghtab over a seven-year period
The Sant'Antnin waste treatment plant will be relocated to Maghtab over a seven-year period

The Labour Party is pledging to close down the Sant’Antnin waste treatment facility and move its operations to a new facility in Maghtab. This, Labour leader Joseph Muscat said, won’t happen in just three or four years but will require a seven-year plan which includes a change in culture.

Muscat was addressing a press conference in Marsaskala, where he said that, for the waste treatment facility to be removed from the seaside locality, there needs to be a drastic improvement in waste separation across the nation.

“We would have loved to say we will close in facility in three or four years,” Muscat said. “It’s not realistic partly because there are systems that the country must get used to. We need to roll out on a national level the system of different bags for waste and there must be a big culture change in how we separate waste in our homes.”

He said that the culture change would need to come from households, who should separate their waste better.

Muscat argued that the proposed period of seven years is long enough for this change to take place, insisting that the Labour Party refuses to allow its electoral manifesto to turn into an auction and would remain realistic in its proposals.

He said plans to shift waste treatment operations away from Sant’Antnin had been in the pipeline for over a year.

“We believe this is a very good way we can show that with investment and technology we can improve people’s lives,” said Muscat.

On WasteServ, Muscat said government had found a situation where people worked under precarious conditions, a situation the government had corrected by increasing workers’ wages and giving them an employment contract.

Turning to the Labour Party’s environmental pledges Muscat once again said that he had listened to criticism over the government’s track record on the environment.

Muscat insisted that the proposed AUM campus in Zonqor would still take place, arguing that the original footprint had been downsized.

“We were criticised over a lack of environmental sensitivity,” said Muscat. “There were decisions we could have taken where we could have been more sensitive, however I must say there was one major project government had decided to build on Outside Development Zone (ODZ) land.”

He added that if the Labour Party is elected to a second term, environmental protection would no longer remain at the discretion of the government but it will be enshrined in the constitution. Moreover, he pledged that no government projects would be started on ODZ land.

Muscat reiterated his belief that the Labour Party’s proposals were credible because of the fact that it had kept the promises made four years ago.

He pointed to projects that he said had been on the cards for a very long time, such as the closure of the Marsa power station, Malta’s shift to gas and away from Heavy Fuel Oil, and the decommissioning of the fuel storage tanks, which started yesterday.

“When the people of Marsaskala hear us say we will be dismantling the facility in seven years, they know we will be doing it because we are credible,” said Muscat.

Asked about comments made by former Labour Party whip Godfrey Farrugia who said in his resignation letter from the party that it has drifted too far from its roots, Muscat insisted he has every respect for Farrugia and that he wished him well.

“I won’t comment about Godfrey Farrugia. I have every respect towards him but he has his own reasons and I wish him well,” said Muscat.