PA studying possibility of offshore dumping of construction waste

The Planning Authority is currently studying the possibility of construction waste dumping in the sea off Tigné Point, Joseph Muscat tells developers

Joseph Muscat received a delegation from the Malta Developers Association
Joseph Muscat received a delegation from the Malta Developers Association

Dumping construction waste in the sea could be a medium-term plan to solve the crisis but it is not government’s preferred option, Joseph Muscat told developers.

The Prime Minister was referring to an offshore location, which has long been used as a dumping ground for construction waste coming from specific projects.

Muscat was speaking at a meeting with members of the Malta Developers Association at Auberge de Castille on Wednesday.

“The PA is still studying this possibility because we need to see the capacity of this area, we need to discuss how to regularise it so it wouldn’t be a free-for-all. This isn’t the government’s preferred choice because what we could be potentially dumping there is a resource, the equivalent of money,” Muscat said. 

He explained how spoilt land under the sea off Tigné Point was an age-old dumping ground since the time of British rule in Malta. The area had in the recent past been used to dump construction waste coming from the MIDI project in Tigné.

But Muscat’s long-term plan to solve the construction waste crisis is land reclamation. Muscat said Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq was the ideal spot for this to happen but the site posed environmental problems. 

“Whoever thinks that we are going to build an island and occupy it with skyscrapers is wrong. We have to remember that places like Marsa, Msida and the Freeport are all products of land reclamation. The most ideal place for land reclamation right now would be Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq but unique flora and fauna there necessitate detailed studies,” Muscat said.

READ ALSO: Cabinet to discuss land reclamation in the coming weeks, Jose Herrera says

Government could get heavy-handed

He told MDA’s president Sandro Chetcuti that the government was looking at different solutions with diligence and that a more short-term plan would include a more heavy-handed approach by the government to make sure that owners of quarries are not excessively charging for the dumping of construction waste despite incentives.

“Auto-regulation sustained itself from three to six months in this area but it wasn’t a smooth affair. If the private sector doesn’t regularise itself sustainably, the government will take all the legal action necessary,” Muscat warned.

The rent law reform was also very briefly discussed, with Muscat describing the rent sector as a “jungle” that badly needed regularisation to get landlords in line and to protect tenants. 

MDA President Sandro Chetcuti
MDA President Sandro Chetcuti

“I don’t think you’ll be happy with our final decision on this issue,” Muscat said vaguely. “If you’re happy with the decisions, it means we won’t be, but I enjoy speaking with the MDA because we know where we stand with you.”

The MDA submitted its proposals to the government for the upcoming Budget. It urged the government to renew incentives like the first-time buyers’ scheme and the second-time buyers scheme that helped boost the property sector. 

The MDA also urged the government to introduce new sanctions for developers and draughtsmen who do not deliver the final product when enthusiastic couples buy plots of land.

“We had a tough summer. Incidents happened which slowed down the industry. We understand that a moratorium had to happen,” Chetcuti said, referring to the government’s order halting all excavation and demolition work after incidents in Pietá and Mellieħa, which saw families lose their homes adjacent to construction sites.

“Today the MDA has become the portavoce for 42,500 people who have worked directly or indirectly with this NGO. The progress that we saw in the last five years was unprecedented and the wealth being distributed is enormous but we want certainty that this will continue,” Chetcuti said. 

The second part of the meeting took place behind closed doors.