Environmental activists and residents have objected to proposed plans for an incinerator in Magħtab in an on-site demonstration today.
They warned that the waste-to-energy facility will not solve Malta’s poor recycling rates, poses an eyesore for the area and possible health hazards for its residents.
“This is just another capital project for contractors to eat away at the little greenery we have,” Flimkien Għal Ambjent Aħjar head Astrid Vella said, insisting that other alternatives must be looked at.
Earlier this year, Malta unveiled plans to seize a plot of land the size of Valletta in the area to develop an incinerator with the aim of drastically reducing the island’s need for landfills.
Four new plants will be built, namely a waste-to-energy facility, a plant to manage dry recyclables, a plant to treat organic waste to extract energy and produce compost, and a new incinerator for clinical and abattoir waste.
Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia hailed Wasteserv’s plans as the “largest-ever investment in Malta’s waste management sector”, stating it will help the country reach its environmental performance and recycling targets.
But activists and near-by residents were not impressed.
“We were promised a family park, not an incinerator. This is unacceptable to us. We feel absolutely betrayed,” a 65-year-old Magħtab resident said.
“What happened to the millions pledged for an afforestation project?” another protestor told Lovin Malta.
“They’ve basically put money before our health and livelihoods.”
Alternattiva Demokratika leader Carmel Cacopardo presented objections to the plans on behalf of himself, the FAA and residents of Baħar ic-Cagħaq. He warned of clear conflicts of interest in the Environmental Impact Assessment drawn up for the incinerator.
The EIA Coordinator, engineer Mario Schembri, is the CEO of GreenPak Coop Limited, a waste management operator in its own right.
“The CEO of GreenPak therefore has an interest which flows directly from a decision concerning the incinerator,” Cacopardo said.
Furthermore, Professor Alan Deidun, who also participated in the conjuring up of the EIA, was appointed as a board member of the Environmental and Resources Authority (ERA). Cacopardo, therefore argued that he cannot be an advisor to the developer when his prime responsibility is to be an environmental regulator.
“The EIA must be annulled and made drawn up from scratch,” Cacopardo insisted, suggesting that other alternatives be studied.
Earlier this month, activists launched an online petition to stop this development from taking place. As of the time of writing, over 890 individuals signed the petition.
Last February, a group of Maltese farmers blocked off an entrance to the Magħtab landfill in protest of such plans, which would see some of their land seized to expand the waste treatment facility.
What do you think of the proposed incinerator?