The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

Road works to resume after agreement on price capping, tax exemption reached with quarries

Tuesday, 28 April 2020, 19:06 Last update: about 1 month ago

The Environment Ministry and the Environment and Resources Authority have reached an agreement with the Malta Developers Association for quarry owners to be given a tax exemption in return for capping the amount they charge for receiving excavation waste.

Infrastructure Malta had, last week, ordered that all roadworks halt as they said there was no space for the excavated waste to be dumped. The Environment and Resources Authority had however, said there is still plenty of space in unused quarries. Farrugia had insisted that there is still space for construction debris in several quarries, and the issue was about a lack of agreement on market prices.

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In a letter to contractors, Infrastructure Malta said that the suspension of works order was being terminated as of Wednesday 29 April, and that infrastructural works continue in all sites.

A government statement read that over the past few weeks, the Ministry for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning with the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) worked on a plan to regulate the sector of construction waste.

"The Ministry and ERA reached an agreement with the MDA for the quarry owners to be given a tax exemption, through which they will be taxed only 5% on the condition that they accept the material at €12 per tonne," the statement read.

"The intervention was deemed necessary in light of the fact that the market did not function in the way it was expected to, with the consequence that quarries in our country were not keeping up with the amount of waste being generated from infrastructural projects by the government at the offered cost," the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning Aaron Farrugia said.

"This exercise was conducted on two levels; individual meetings with a large number of quarry owners, as well as meetings with the Malta Developers Association (MDA), which represents the majority of quarry owners, with the aim of facilitating the discussion."

These measures will help ERA to regulate the industry, in order to implement good practices as well as recycling plants. "Here, initiative will also be taken for stone to be used more than once under the principle of reduce, reuse, recycle."

Another measure will be that, as sites are given development permission through a commencement notice, the disposal site where the waste is to be deposited by the developer needs to be identified. "Conditions in contracts for use of quarries, and in permits for operation and use will be scrutinised and enforced by the responsible entities in a coordinated effort. This should provide for a sustainable future for the industry."

The Minister said that the government still has the possibility of depositing clean material from the industry (inert waste) in a specific area in territorial waters. "This site was identified in the 1960s, and was used many times in the past, with the most recent case being construction waste primarily from projects close to the coast."

The Minister insisted that, while this is one of the options open to him, "the work done in the past few weeks resulted in the decision to keep quarries as the preferred option for depositing inert waste."

"In contrast to previous governments, which not only abused of, but also failed to regulate such an important sector, this government is taking courageous decisions and delivering the results which the people expect. "


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