Building industry faces emergency over lack of construction waste dumping sites - Sandro Chetcuti

Malta Developers Association willing to discuss solutions with government but calls for decisions to be taken because problem risks stifling industry

Sandro Chetcuti says construction waste emergency requires urgent government decisions
Sandro Chetcuti says construction waste emergency requires urgent government decisions

The building industry is facing an emergency over the lack of construction waste dumping sites with Sandro Chetcuti calling on the government to take the "necessary decisions" so as not to stymie development.

The president of the Malta Developers Association told MaltaToday his association was willing to discuss solutions with the government but stopped short of saying what these are.

"There are solutions but I prefer discussing them around the table with the government first. But it is necessary that the government takes the necessary decisions in the national interest because the lack of construction waste dumping sites could stifle the industry," Chetcuti said.

This is not the first time that industry players have warned of a waste emergency caused by a sector moving ahead on full throttle and a restricted number of quarries able to receive the waste.

READ ALSO: Construction industry boom and lack of dumping space is creating a lucrative, quasi-monopoly for a handful of quarry operator

The alarm bells rang again this week when one of only two quarries currently receiving construction waste increased the price of dumping to €15 per tonne for separated waste and €17 per tonne for mixed waste. After an uproar, the quarry closed its doors, leaving contractors fuming.

On Wednesday evening Environment Minister Jose Herrera urged the industry to try and find a solution within the context of the free market but warned that he could use the powers granted to him at law to seize quarries with a permit to receive construction waste. Herrera never followed through with a similar threat earlier this year when a similar problem arose.

Back then the government had agreed to offer fiscal incentives to quarry owners on condition that prices remain stable. Just a few months down the line, and operating in a quasi-monopolistic environment, one of the quarries raised its prices again.

But the minister's assertion that 10 new permits for quarries to receive waste were issued this year was disputed by Chetcuti.

"It does not result to me that quarries with a permit to receive waste were not doing so over the past few months. But we also have to keep in mind that some quarries are owned by construction companies that are using them to dump their own waste from projects they are involved in and others are still extracting stone," Chetcuti said when contacted on Thursday.

Chetcuti added that some quarry owners who wanted to receive construction waste were being faced with a lot of bureaucracy, while others had problems of accessibility to be able to handle large volumes. "We cannot forget that apart from the waste generated by the industry there are also multiple road projects initiated by the government that are also creating waste."

"This is a national problem that requires a short cut solution that protects the environment because we cannot continue to depend only on the few quarries that could be used to dump waste," Chetcuti said without elaborating.

Within industry circles, dumping excavation waste at a designated offshore site is often posited as a short term solution to the current impasse. This would be nothing new, since there have been projects in the past that were allowed to dump excavation waste out at sea.

However, it is understood that many industry players want government to take a longer term view on land reclamation that would ease the pressure on land-based dumping.



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