The Malta Independent 4 October 2022, Tuesday
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Proposed organic processing plant in Maghtab requires Environment Impact Assessment - ERA

Monday, 15 August 2022, 08:53 Last update: about 3 months ago

A proposed Organic Processing Plant within the ECOHIVE complex in Maghtab requires the submission of an Environment Impact Assessment, the Environment and Resources Authority has said.

The construction of the plant was foreseen to be implemented in the ECOHIVE complex according to the Waste Management Plan (WMP) for the Maltese Islands, 2021- 2030.

The proposed Organic Processing Plant (OPP) will be treating organic waste mainly collected from household and commercial entities all over the Maltese Islands, the project description statement filed by Wasteserv reads. "Biowaste plays a key role in sustainable waste management. The project therefore aims at improving waste management in Malta by reducing the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill."

It read that this project will aid in preserving landfill capacity and thus contribute to land preservation. "Some other benefits of construction an Organic Processing Plant include: Production of biogas and electrical energy, thus reducing reliance on non - renewable resources; Production of digestate, a nitrogen rich fertilizer; Direct and indirect employment benefits."

It also notes that the Waste Framework Directive establishes a number of targets to be achieved. By 2025, the preparing for re-use and the recycling of municipal waste should be increased to a minimum of 55 % by weight; and by 2030, it shall be increased to a minimum of 60 % by weight.

The site for this plant is located within the south-eastern area section of the ECOHIVE Complex.

The Environment and Resources Authority, in its Screening Report which found that the project requires an Environment Impact Assessment, said that the proposal will entail a change in land use from agricultural land to a waste management facility for the processing of organic matter. "The change of use and the loss of around 20,262 square metres of agricultural land together with the loss of sporadic trees and smaller shrubs is likely to have a significant impact on the environment and therefore this aspect needs to be assessed further."

"The proposal entails the removal of soil and site clearance together with the excavation for an underground level, amounting to 44,500 cubic metres of excavated material. 7,100 cubic metres of the excavated material is proposed to be reused on site, while the remaining 37,400 cubic metres is being proposed to be disposed in a licensed waste disposal facility or utilised in the construction industry."

The Screening Report reads that the area surrounding the Magħtab Waste Complex features a combination of cultural heritage features rubble walls, agricultural stores and giren, dolmens, megalithic remains and ancient quarries and tombs. The dolmens are legally scheduled. "It is unclear whether the proposed development will likely have any significant impacts in terms of known (including impact on 'Ta' Hammud' site and its context) and unknown surviving cultural features and archaeological sites within the site itself and the surrounding areas. In this regard, further assessment is required."

The report also read that the proposal may have significant impacts on landscape and visual amenity given that it shall occupy a sizeable tract of land outside the development zone. "In this regard, noting the location and topographical context of the site, it remains unclear to what extent the proposal will affect the visual amenity and landscape character even with the mitigation measures proposed in the project description statement. In this regard, further assessment is required."

As regards the terrestrial ecology, the proposed interventions may give rise to temporary disturbances attributed to noise and vibrations onto the 'L-Għadira s-Safra u l-Iskoll tal-Għallis', Natura 2000 Special Area of Conservation, which potentially lies within the area of influence. "This feature is a significant resident, resting and foraging site for avifauna and important for migratory birds. Therefore, mitigation measures should be in place to mitigate impacts on these potential receptors such as timing of works and machinery used."

The project also lies in the potential area of influence to a marine Special Area of Conservation of International Importance for the presence of Posidonia beds and a marine Special Protected Area for the presence Calonectris diomedea colonies and Puffinus yelkouan colonies, both designated under the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Regulations. "In this regard, impacts related to construction and operation of the facility in terms of said habitats are unclear at this stage, thus should be further assessed."

 


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