‘Lack of strategy’ for Malta’s construction waste problem, ERA warns

The proposed commercial complex at Smart City will result in the creation of a staggering 230,000 cubic metres of excavation waste

The Environment and Resources Authority has decried the lack of a national strategy on how to tackle the increased quantities of excavation waste from construction projects.

The ERA made its comments in a report on the proposed development of a commercial complex at Smart City, which will result in the creation of a staggering 230,000 cubic metres of excavation waste.

According to the project’s environment impact assessment (EIA), this waste will be transported off-site to backfilled quarries or at a designated area off Xghajra, where construction waste is deposited at sea.

But the ERA complained that such project-specific EIAs cannot assess the full cumulative impact of waste excavation at a national level.

“EIAs have inherent limitations vis-à-vis the effective resolution to this type of issue…. especially in the absence of strategic-level environmental parameters for the abatement of excavation waste generation,” the ERA said.

The authority called for the problem of construction waste to be considered “proactively at more strategic level”.

The Smart City development will result in the excavation of the site to sea level and the construction of mixed-use development consisting of an underground carpark on three levels, a commercial complex over two partly underground levels, an elevated residential plaza with communal pool and landscaping, and an overlying residential complex on eleven floors.

Whilst expressing its reservations with regard to excavation waste, the ERA is not objecting to the proposed development due to the already-established commitments created by a permit issued for Smart City in 2008.

The proposed site has already been approved for use for retail and residential by virtue of the Smart City Master Plan, which was itself subject to a separate EIA.

This application proposes the increase in gross floor area from the approved 19,500sq.m to 110,881sq.m by transferring 28,000sq.m of residential floorspace and 6,700sq.m of commercial floorspace from other plots within the current approved master plan, together with an additional 13,155sq.m of retail floorspace and 42,660sq.m of parking.

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