The Malta Independent 8 December 2019, Sunday

Watch: Land reclamation will not result in artificial islands filled with skyscrapers, Muscat says

Albert Galea Tuesday, 17 September 2019, 16:58 Last update: about 4 months ago

The government's land reclamation policy will not result in the creation of artificial islands filled with skyscrapers, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Tuesday.

Asked after a cabinet meeting by The Malta Independent about what the government's vision for land reclamation projects is, Muscat said that all feasible options were being considered, but excluded the creation of artificial islands for them to be filled with skyscrapers.

On Monday, Environment Minister Jose Herrera said that it was a matter of weeks before a document about land reclamation is presented to the Cabinet, and noted that if it is indeed to occur, the environment will be the priority while noting that such a project would have to have an economic and commercial aspect as well.

Muscat said that land reclamation has been part of the government's vision since 2013, and noted that the concept is nothing particularly new to the country; part of Marsa, part of Msida, and the Freeport are all built on reclaimed land.

He said that a spoilt area of sea which was used for dumping ever since the British times was being evaluated from an environmental sustainability perspective, but noted that this was not his preferred choice.

His preferred choice was in fact land reclamation that could result in new promenades and which could result in more openness on space.

He noted that there had been another idea to create an artificial island outside of the islands and relocate all polluting industries to over there. "I think it is a very adventurous idea, but if it is feasible I do not think we should exclude anything", he said.

What was most feasible in the coming years however, he said, are projects similar to those which already exist on reclaimed land, like there is in Marsa, Msida, and the Freeport.

The Prime Minister pointed towards the developing problem with construction waste, noting that the government will be giving a "clear signal" to the private sector that they will not accept them not taking responsibility for the disposal of their waste. If they do not, the government will take measures to see that the disposal is more organised, Muscat said.

He noted that this problem will be further exacerbated when the time comes to build the tunnel between Malta an Gozo, which, he said, will generate three times as much waste than the building industry as a whole generates in a year, and when it comes to the start of the metro system project, which Muscat said the country will need.

"Are we going to throw all this into the sea? These are the real issues that we have to plan long-term for", he said.


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