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02 August 2014

Failed Justification for demolition and enlargement of Sant’ Antnin

 - Tuesday, 16 August 2005, 00:00 , by STEVE BORG

In his reply The Sant’ Antnin recycling plant (TMID, 22 July), Dr Chris Ciantar fails in his attempt to justify WasteServ’s going ahead with the demolition and enlargement of the Sant’ Antnin Recycling Plant in Marsascala, irrespective of the national controversy that it has stirred. Being evasive wins him no points, and writing rashly and abrasively pays him no dividends either.

If one carefully reads both my movement’s contribution, The Sant’ Antnin recycling plant (TMID, 19 July) and Dr Ciantar’s, it is evident that he evades mentioning the alternative site selection process exposed by Zabbar, Zejtun and Marsascala local councils and the Front Kontra l-Impjant. We are all waiting for WasteServ’s public apology. Call it deception, mis-information or whatever you like. The fact remains that all the alternative sites were automatically eliminated from the selection process, the area footprint provided being too small, leaving Sant’ Antnin as the only site. Or so WasteServ would love to lead us to believe.

The fact that the WasteServ report, as presented by SLR (Nottingham) in October 2004, stated that with regard to Il-Mara, on the outskirts of Benghajsa, “establishing a waste management facility would have a negative social impact resulting from the disruption to the trapping and shooting activities” is a very salient consideration and cannot be withdrawn or set aside. This consideration goes against the European Union Birds Directive, adopted by Council Directive 79/409. We have duly informed the European Commission about this.

Dr Ciantar reminds us that Il-Mara is a site “set within a level 2 designated ecological site.” He does not give, and for his good reason, chronological details about its grading. Our movement publicly asks why Mepa chose to present Il-Mara as an alternative site in the first place, when one considers that with the WasteServ report, drafted and issued in 1998, Mepa had already known that the very same site had already been scheduled by G.N. Notice 400 in 1996. What is illogical here? Can Mepa or WasteServ explain? We, the public, have a right to know.

It is also incorrect for Dr Ciantar to state that Il-Mara has “concomitant inefficiencies for access.” He forgets that the site is a few hundred metres from Malta’s main heavy vehicle road connecting Cirkewwa to the Malta Freeport, that facilitates the rapid movement of containers to the trans-shipment terminals. Dr Ciantar also knows that vehicular trips are also considered by the duration factor and not only by distance, where heavy vehicles can be subjected to drive in low-gear due to the heavy traffic flow in urbanised zones.

If he is as concerned about the protection of the natural environment as much as our movement is, then he should be pre-occupied with the presence of coal ash, dumped by our national energy corporation, at Il-Mara that is still very evident.

It is opportune to remind Dr Ciantar that the Planning Authority, when approving the Marsaxlokk Bay Local Plan in May 1995 officially stated that:

“The coastline and immediate littoral at Il-Mara have been comprehensively degraded by the unconstrained and indiscriminate dumping of fuel ash on a large scale. Remedial action is required now, and under the “polluter pays” principle, the cost of this should be borne by Enemalta.”

Most importantly the report stressed that:

“the Planning Authority will be prepared to take action under section 50 of the Development Planning Act 1992 to ensure that the site is restored.”

There are still tons of this coal ash on the site – the land degradation is very substantial and inordinate.

Our environmental NGO wants Dr Ciantar and his colleagues to call a press conference on site at Il-Mara and indicate to us on national television where exactly the natural regeneration that WasteServ speaks about has taken place. When our committee revisited Il-Mara a few days ago, we were definitely perplexed, since we found the site totally infested with bird trapping hides, spread all over with building aggregate and with strong evidence of very recent fly-by-night tipping activities. He will then be asked to indicate where his “attractive rural landscape adjacent to the coastal cliffs” is. Is it, perhaps, from the multitude of illegal bird-hides perched on the cliff-sides that greet the Cory shearwaters on their evening return to land?

While he is very much at ease in calling me a “conspiracy theorist”, he even tries to give the impression that I am personally against the recycling of waste and the generation of energy from it. How ludicrous! If he had the decency to ask, rather than jump the gun, he would have found out that I, together with others like the late Maggie Borg, have for years been advocating, on board Greenpeace ships like the Rainbow Warrior, the Sirius and the Arctic Sunrise, the need for Malta to introduce the “three R’s” concept – reduce, re-use and recycle – and other environmental policies, years before WasteServ’s inception. All those years since Dr Stanley Zammit’s untimely political demise and yet waste separation at source in Malta remains a fantasy. Is this the fruit of another conspiracy theory?

Local environmentalists are used to the inanimate voice of the echelons of power who try to flout anyone who dares raise a finger to query shady processes. We have not had a passé existence nor have we created paper parks or projects just for the sake of doing so. What environmentalists do is tangible, and it is not uncommon for politicians in front of rolling cameras, to claim the achievements as their very own doing.

Now is the time for Wasteserv to prove us as conspiracy theorists and call for a press conference, with those rolling cameras, to indicate Il-Mara’s natural regeneration. We are eagerly waiting.

STEVE BORG

Secretary

Moviment Favur il-Harsien Tal-Wied Tal-Maghluq

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