Church commission warns of threat of land reclamation projects

Church Environment Commission Maltese archdiocese decries land reclamation and 'uncontrolled construction'

The archdiocese called for a longterm strategy into dealing with construction waste
The archdiocese called for a longterm strategy into dealing with construction waste

The Church’s Environment Commission has warned that Malta is facing a crisis on construction waste with the prevalent view that land reclamation is the way forward for Malta being “highly debatable.”

The commission said the problem of construction waste “has grown disproportionately” but decreed that land reclamation was not a solution, and especially that the criteria for the choice of the reclamation site should not be dictated by the commercial interests of whoever would like to develop reclaimed land.

“The marine biodiversity in our islands should be protected. The sea is a great natural resource and it contributes highly to our economic, environmental and social wellbeing. If we are to treat it as a new dumping site to cover up what we wouldn’t like to see, we would once again be deluding ourselves into thinking that we have found a solution to the problem of excessive waste resulting from the unsustainable activity of the building industry,” it said.

The commission lamented the approval of proposals for huge projects in the interest of “irresponsible egotists” who stand to make a lot of money off public land. In the meantime, a long-term plan of sustainable management is still out of sight, it said.

The commission described Maghtab, Malta’s largest landfill, as a “mountain of construction and excavation waste” and that further construction waste from future projects should be a responsibility borne by developers themselves.

“According to the polluter pays principle, the onus should fall on those, who for years on end irrespective of whoever was governing the country at the time, have used unsustainable means of construction to generate wealth, sending a great quantity of Maltese stone to the landfills.”

It made reference to a claim made by the Malta Developers Association earlier this week that suggested that the demand for waste-dumping space is greater than the supply of available spaces. Environment minister José Herrera downplayed this claim at an Environment and Development Planning Committee meeting and said that there were over 20 quarries where waste could be dumped.

READ MORE: Only a handful of quarries used despite 32 licenses

“We have a clear admission that the current development is anything but sustainable,” the commission said, adding that repeated warnings from various sectors have gone unheard.

The commission called for a long-term plan and policies to guarantee a framework of sustainability for the benefit of present and future generations.

More in Environment