The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

Maghtab farmers will consider legal action if plans for new waste facility remain unchanged

Albert Galea Thursday, 21 May 2020, 09:37 Last update: about 8 days ago

Farmers who own agricultural land surrounding the Maghtab landfill will consider taking legal action against the government if plans for Wasteserv’s new waste facility in the area remain unchanged, a representative for the farmers told The Malta Independent.

Charlie Sciberras, who is representing some 25 farmers who hold land in the area, told this newsroom that they remained convinced that more can be done for less agricultural land to be taken up by the project.

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Sciberras’ statement comes after the government rejected a proposal for alternative sites for the planned new waste management facility at Maghtab.

The new facility is slated to include a waste-to-energy plant, a new plant for the management of dry recyclables, a plant to treat organic waste to extract energy and produce compost for use in agriculture, as well as the replacement of the clinical and abattoir waste incinerator.

Its initial iteration drew protests from farmers, who took to the streets around Maghtab when they first learnt of the planned 279,000 square metre expropriation needed.  The plans were later revised, with 70% less land being taken up.

Still, Sciberras said, farmers do not agree with the planned take-up of 82,000 square metres for the project and continue to insist that there are alternative sites for the expansion.

They had proposed four alternative sites some days ago, but the government rejected these alternatives, noting that the alternatives presented included a site that is home to various endemic trees and garigue habitat and another one located on the Żwejra landfill, which is excluded for engineering reasons.

Sciberras however insisted that the proposed sites can, and should, be used.

He said that farmers were willing to give some quarter to reach an agreement, and Sciberras augured that with goodwill on the part of the government an agreement to suit both parties can be reached.

If not, however, he said that the farmers will see what legal means they have available to follow the matter up, and use them.

Another protest was also planned for this coming Saturday, but authorities refused to grant the permits – likely, Sciberras said, due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

Sciberras concluded that while they do agree with the need for the project, they do not agree that they have to lose swathes of their land because of it.

He noted that this is not a matter of politics for them – it is a matter of keeping their and their family’s livelihood.

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