The Malta Independent 24 June 2019, Monday

Government and PN squabble over proposed incinerator

Albert Galea Monday, 10 December 2018, 19:49 Last update: about 7 months ago

The government and the Nationalist Party, through their respective representatives, squabbled over the proposed waste incinerator during a meeting of the Environment and Development Planning Committee.

The government has proposed that the incinerator, which will use incineration technology to process 40% of Malta's non-recyclable municipal waste and in turn produce 69,000 megawatts per year, should be built within the confines of Maghtab.


During a committee meeting, the government, represented by Environment Minister Jose Herrera and committee chair and Labour MP Alex Muscat, and the PN's whip Robert Cutajar, who was replacing MP Jason Azzopardi who is abroad, locked into a debate over various matters of the project, namely the site location and the transparency of the project, a debate which spilled over into criticism from the government over the PN's decision not to take part in the waste to energy committee.

Cutajar questioned what he called a lack of transparency in the site selection exercise which resulted in the choice of Maghtab as the location for the incinerator.  Herrera and Muscat both insisted however that there was no such lack of transparency, and that the exercise was available for the public to see.

Herrera argued that the incinerator would not create inconvenience; in fact it would mitigate the same supposed inconvenience.  Cutajar meanwhile insisted on transparency from the government saying that everything should be in the public domain.

The debate shifted to the PN's decision not to be part of the waste to energy committee, with Cutajar deflecting saying that he would prefer if the government answers his questions with relation to transparency instead.  Herrera on his part said that in the past former PN MP had proposed that an incinerator be built in Marsaxlokk, and quizzed Cutajar as to whether the PN's position today remained the same.  He appealed to Cutajar that if he, or the Opposition in general, had any viable alternative to suggest as a site then they were more than welcome to do so, asking Cutajar there and then where else the incinerator could be built if not Maghtab.  In the face of this, Cutajar reiterated that he had simply asked for the site selection report and expected that the government be transparent in this regard.

Cutajar's line of discussion did not go down well with Herrera, with him saying "this is the type of critique that is keeping the PN in opposition:  you criticise without offering any suggestion of an alternative".  Herrera continued, exclaiming "give me an alternative location...nobody from the opposition has suggested anything to do with this project".  

Consultation on Terms of Reference for Environmental Impact Assessment ongoing

A consultation on the terms of reference for the terms of reference for the Environmental Impact Assessment of the project is currently ongoing and will close in the first week of the new year, the Environmental Resources Authority's Kevin Mercieca said during the committee meeting.

Afterwards, ERA will finalise the terms of reference for the impact assessment, at which point it will be passed on to the applicants, after which there will eventually be another consultation period before the Planning Authority opens its own consultation.

The meeting itself was convened upon the initiative of the Partit Demokratiku, and in the run up to it PD leader and MP Godfrey Farrugia posed three questions to the committee which touched upon the impact the plant would have on attitudes towards recycling, assurances on air quality and the disposal of ask from the incinerator.

However, during the meeting Farrugia expressed his satisfaction at the news that there would be a consultation period prior to the Environmental Impact Assessment, and took some time to point out the need for emphasis on reduction of waste, not just the recycling of it.

Cutajar himself meanwhile also asked for clarification on what exactly the incinerator was going to be responsible for burning, and it was clarified that the plant was to be purposely built at a comparatively small size so to keep encouraging recycling.  The incinerator will primarily deal with refuse derived fuel (RDF) waste, which is material that is not able to be recycled.



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