A Ministry for the Environment press statement published yesterday refers to the Times of Malta article, published on Sunday 29th July 2018 related to the permit issued for the quarry known as Tal-Magħlaq Quarry in Siġġiewi. The statement says that the Ministry for the Environment would like to clarify that such permit was one of ten permits issued as part of a short–medium term initiative in a bid to solve the construction waste issue that was becoming evident after two other quarries were reportedly full.
ERA took all necessary measures by processing 10 permits in an efficient and effective manner taking into consideration all environmental aspects. It is important to note that contrary to the impression given by journalist that “the ‘independent’ Environment and Resources Authority was ordered by the ministry to issue a permit for the new operator of the quarry”, no such orders were issued by the Ministry to the Authority in this regard. In fact, the site was identified after information obtained from the Lands Authority indicated that the quarry was not government-owned, and it had a Planning Authority enforcement notice, but the owner of the quarry could not be identified.
WasteServ Malta Ltd., as the operator of last resort, made the necessary arrangements to operate the infilling process at the mentioned quarry. In the subsequent days, the current operator of the quarry submitted the necessary application to the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), requesting a permit to proceed with the infilling operation. Such permit has been issued with various conditions including those related to emissions, waste disposal process, waste storage and handling, waste acceptance, type of equipment to be used on site, storage areas, site management and reporting.
At that point, and since the owner presented itself and started the process to apply for the necessary permits, WasteServ Malta Ltd. was not anymore considered as the operator of last resort thus retracted from site. ERA as the competent authority, is the regulator for such operations and it is involved from the regulatory aspect with respect to the permitting of the infilling operations.
The statement concludes that moreover, it is pertinent to note that through Legal Notice 101 of 2017 (the Requisition of Excavation Voids regulations,) “The Minister may, by order under his hand, requisition any excavation void or such part or parts thereof from any requisitionee and may give such directions as appear to him to be necessary or expedient in order that the requisition may be put into effect and complied with.” Such legal parameters, which the Minister highlighted on a number of occasions can be used in extremis, was not considered necessary in this case.