MaltaToday | 10 August 2008

NEWS | Sunday, 10 August 2008

The Sant’ Antnin plant mystery

Projected costs remain the same despite decrease in plant’s capacity

An application for EU funding to upgrade the Sant Antnin recyling plant to cater for 71,000 tonnes per annum, was based on the same costings for a plant designed to take 200,000 tonnes per annum.
A MaltaToday probe reveals that the costing for the costings in the Environmental Impact Assessment for a plant taking 71,000 tonnes of waste per annum remained the same as those quoted in a previous study on the impact of a plant taking 200,000 tonnes of waste per annum.
The government’s original strategy was for Sant Antnin to cater for the entire waste supply of the island estimated at 200,000 tonnes per annum.
But following public consultation – in a bid to allay residents’ fears that Malta’s entire waste supply was to be processed by the Sant Antnin plant – a decision was taken to reduce the waste intake from 200,000 tonnes per annum to 71,000 tonnes per annum.
The first costings of the plant were made in an “environmental statement” prepared by SLR consulting Limited in October 2004.
This study sticks to the original plant “designed to operate at a maximum of 200,000 tonnes per annum, covering 4.7 hectares.”
According to the document, the second stage of the development, costed at €16.7 million, was to be funded through the EU’s cohesion fund programme. The first stage of the development was costed at €14 million.
Surprisingly, the Environment Impact Assessment published in June 2005 still refers to the same costs, even if the referred plant is designed to operate at a maximum of 71,000 tonnes per annum.
Despite the reduction in capacity the plant was still projected to cover 4.7 hectares and the EU funding required was still estimated at €16.7 million.
MaltaToday asked the Ministry for the Environment to explain why the plant’s projected cost remained the same despite the change in capacity.
While acknowledging that “the bigger the plant, the bigger the expense,” and that the “costs to develop a 71,000 t/a and a 200,000 t/a facility vary considerably,” a spokesperson for the Environment Ministry insists that the application for EU funds was always “based on a facility capable of treating 71,000 tonnes per annum.”
“That is the amount of waste we based our applied on and that is what the plant is developed to treat today,” a spokesperson for the Ministry told MaltaToday.
The ministry insists that “the 200,000 t/a facility was never costed as it was never intended for development following the first draft of the EIA.”
The decision to reduce the waste capacity of the Sant Antnin Plant has made the development of two plants new plants necessity.
The ministry’s spokesperson confirmed that the government is seeking to apply for more EU funds for the development of two new plants one in the north and one in Gozo to make up for the decrease in the Sant Antnin plant’s waste capacity.
“There is potential to apply for more funding under the 2007-2013 funding programme. Government, through WasteServ, has already made the necessary provision to include these projects for funding consideration. The Operational Programme is evidence of this,” the government spokesperson said.

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