The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

No shortage of void space for construction waste in foreseeable future – minister

Kevin Schembri Orland Sunday, 10 May 2020, 10:00 Last update: about 19 days ago

There will be no shortage of void space to accept construction waste in the foreseeable future, Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia has said.

Writing in an opinion article appearing in today’s edition of The Malta Independent on Sunday, the minister spoke about the agreement reached with quarry owners regarding construction waste.

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In April, Infrastructure Malta had ordered contractors to stop road works, arguing that there wasn’t enough space to take in waste. Environment Minister Farrugia had, however insisted that there was still space for construction debris in several quarries, and the issue was about a lack of agreement on market prices.

The government then reached an agreement with quarry owners to help reduce market prices.

“Following intensive discussions, a number of quarry owners and operators have agreed to immediately start accepting construction and demolition waste. Government has further facilitated this by amending the related tax incentive regulations, raising the qualifying dumping fee threshold from €8 per ton to €12 or less per ton.”

“This means that those quarries who accept construction and demolition waste at the rate of €12 per ton will benefit from a maximum tax rate of 5% on the related income. This rate was also deemed acceptable for development contractors when compared to market rates of €15 per ton and over, that were previously being demanded. We are informed that as a result of this arrangement there is now no major shortage of void space to accept the waste being generated. Our estimates indicate that for the foreseeable future there should be no such further shortages,” the minister said.

“This means that operators now have the needed visibility and tranquility to enable them to undertake investments from which, through the multiplier effect of economic activity, the country will achieve net benefits when compared to the costs of tax incentives.  The relevance and importance of this should also be further appreciated in the context of the current economic slowdown brought about by the global pandemic. We have, however, given a helping hand -- not a freehand license.”

The minister argues that the ERA will be enhancing its oversight on quarry operations to ensure that these are abiding by the set license conditions whilst Government is clear in its intentions to ensure that there are no abuses. 

Minister Farrugia also mentioned that the government initiated a process to prepare and introduce more robust regulations. He also mentions that construction waste is a resource, and “in this context, the reduction and recycling of such waste needs to be actively taken up.”

The ERA has been tasked with drafting a strategy for the management of construction and demolition waste that incorporates circular economy concepts, he said.

Minister Farrugia said a solution that makes use of existing quarry landfilling void space is preferable to others involving extensions to quarries or dumping at sea. Even if these choices must, out of necessity be maintained as controversial policy options, they should be a last resort, he said.

 

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