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NEWS | Sunday, 20 February 2008

Cacopardo’s Sant Antnin report: MEPA silent on Hal Far site

James Debono

The Malta and Environment Authority is refusing to divulge the location of a site in the Hal Far industrial estate which was considered to be a suitable alternative to the Marsascala waste management site at Sant Antnin.
An internal MEPA email cited in a report divulged by Alternattiva Demokratika’s new candidate and former Nationalist stalwart Carmel Cacopardo, describes the site as “more strategically located” than the Sant Antnin plant.
The audit report, signed by MEPA auditor Joe Falzon, castigates MEPA for not giving adequate consideration to alternative sites in the process leading to the approval of the Marsascala plant.
The report quotes an email sent by a MEPA manager in May 2004 asking why the Hal Far site was discarded. “There are tracts of industrial land which are more strategically located and which are vacant. I distinctly remember a site outside Hal Far Industrial Estate being discussed at MPT (Major Projects Team) level; why was this discarded?”
MEPA’s audit office asked MEPA’s Environment Impact Assessment team to clarify this matter.
In their reply the EIA team acknowledged that the Hal Far site had been mentioned in an internal meeting. “The potential site in Hal Far was mentioned, however it transpired it was not readily available since it was in MIP (Malta International Parks) ownership operated by a third party.”
But when asked by MaltaToday, MEPA refused to name the present operator of the factory. Spokesperson Peter Gingell would only say that the only sites previously identified for projects connected to waste disposal or treatment were considered: “Apart from the fact that the (Hal Far) site was not readily available… the most important factor for the alternative sites was that all of them were at some point in time proposed as alternative sites related to waste disposal or treatment.”
The fact that a place is “not readily available” however does not preclude MEPA from approving a project on it. MIP had to relocate factories in Ricasoli to vacate the area for the Smart City development.
According to the MEPA spokesperson, “all applications on land that falls within the jurisdiction of MIP are required to be either full, vetoed by MIP, or submitted through this agency before the processing by MEPA.”
MaltaToday asked MEPA whether it had ever informed Malta Industrial Parks on the possibility of locating the recycling plant in the Hal Far industrial estate far away from any residents.
No reply was forthcoming from MEPA.


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