The Malta Independent 12 November 2019, Tuesday

Budget 2020: Environment - Banning of variety of single-use plastic products to begin in 2021

Monday, 14 October 2019, 21:19 Last update: about 28 days ago

The environment and sustainable development have been two particular areas of concern in Malta over the past years, with the environmental movement gaining momentum, and protests against measures and plans that would have adverse effects on Malta’s green areas seeing strong support.

During his speech, the finance minister tackled the single-use plastics. He said that such products will begin to be prohibited in Malta. The first phase, he said, will see the importation and production of plastic bags, plastic cutlery, plastic straws and single-use plastic plates prohibited from 1 January 2021. Their distribution and sale will be prohibited after 1 January 2022

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Due to this, the government is launching a subsidy scheme to help shops set up green corners, where part of the shop will be dedicated to the sale of food products and others by weight.

During his speech, Scicluna noted that the EU is discussing strengthening measures for 2030 in order to be carbon neutral by 2050. This means, he said, that Malta will continue working to reach climate goals through the Emission Trading Scheme.

He announced that next year, the government will present a national strategy guiding Malta towards carbon neutrality in 2050.

Waste management

The finance minister announced that the government continue with preparations for a Waste-to-Energy plant, “and that way the Sant’ Antnin recycling plant will close once and for all, after the success of the organic waste separation programme.”

He said that through this budget, the necessary funds for the Environment and Resources Authority to continue increasing environmental programmes and studies –  including those related to fine dust in the air.

Clean vehicles

The Finance Minister turned his attention to vehicles on the road, and said that over the past years the number of people registering electric vehicles has increased substantially. He expressed the government’s determination to make Malta one of the first EU countries to make the change to electronic vehicles. This, he said, will be one way for the country’s economy to be less dependent on carbon.

He said that the Commission that was set up by the government will recommend the final date after which vehicles imported to Malta would not be allowed to pollute. “This does not mean that people who have a car operating on diesel or petrol would need to get rid of it.”

As from next year, he said, in order to incentivise electric vehicles, aside from increasing the number of charging points around the country, lower tariffs will be charged to individuals who have the kinds of vehicles that do not pollute, and would need to charge their vehicles from inside their homes.

This, he said, will be done through a special rate where these people will begin paying slightly less than €0.13 per unit when they charge their vehicles from their homes.

Beverage container collection scheme

Scicluna announced that, after an agreement was reached with a consortium made up of operators and importers regarding how such a scheme would work, by the end of this year the Beverage Container Recycling Scheme would be introduced. A number of trial machines will be installed.

Afforestation and environmental projects

While noting that recently, a number of afforestation projects were already implemented, the minister said that other sites around the country, like Comino, Buskett the Inwadar National Park and the Salina Park will see such projects.

In terms of urban environmental projects, he said that initial preparations to roof over part of Regional Road so that Santa Venera would no longer remain split in two are underway. He said that this will give this locality a lung, open recreational space where residents can relax without the risk and pollution caused by traffic.

Ta’ Qali National Park

Finance Minister Scicluna called the Ta’ Qali National Park project the largest environmental project. “This will be our contribution to our future generations.” He said that around €2 million is going to be allocated for this project and for afforestation.

He said that this site will also see the construction of a new building to house the national archives.

Public cleansing

While calling public cleansing a priority, the minister said that the government will bring together all public entities involved and the social partners in this sector to set up a plan as to how they can better use their human and financial resources, to improve the services and result in better cleanliness of public spaces.

A more sustainable construction sector

Malta Enterprise will incentivise construction operators to dispose of their old machinery and change them with newer machinery that pollutes less according to established standards. This aid can reach up to €200,000.

Regeneration and refurbishment

Refurbishment, maintenance and regeneration works will continue in the coming months, even in zones not traditionally considered to be tourism areas, he said. He said that the government is looking at what bays can be extended, among which are Rinella Bay and Ghadira.

In addition, he said that a pilot project will run to increase accessibility to rocky beach zones, and will be done while ensuring that there will be no negative intervention on the natural environment, he pledged.

In addition, a National Trail Network aimed at promoting trails will be developed, while also improving accessibility in several rural areas around Malta.

The minister has also announced that next year the government wants to start regeneration works on the Msida, Kalkara and Pieta coasts.

Energy

The National Energy and Climate Plan 2021 – 2030 will be presented to the European Commission in December, Scicluna said. Through this plan, the government identified a number of scenarios that consider measures based on the EU’s strategy to reach the EU 2030 goals.

Various schemes and measures that contribute to the better and efficient use of energy and the production of renewable energy will continue to be administered next year, including schemes for the installation of solar panels, heat pump water heaters, solar water heaters and insulation for homes. The feed-in tariff for electricity generated from PV panels will remain.

The minister also said that a 25% expenditure grant ( up to €1,000) will be given for people to purchase batteries for the storage of renewable energy. People who already had solar panels installed and whose feed-in tariff contract expired will be eligible for this scheme.

Turning to the Malta-Italy gas pipeline, that will supply the Delimara power station instead of the floating storage unit, he said that this project is expected to occur through a €400 million investment by 2024, and will connect Malta with the European gas network.

He also announced that Enemalta will continue strengthening its electricity distribution by extending and working on distribution centres. He also said that ARMS will provide consumers with more speedy and reliable payment facilities, through investment in their IT infrastructure.

Water management

Scicluna said that work by the Water Services Corporation to assure the security, sustainability and provision of better quality water will continue. He said that new technology will be introduced in the reverse osmosis plants to reduce the consumption of energy while improving efficiency.

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