NEWS | Sunday, 28 September 2008

Siggiewi council threatens to close road for Polidano’s trucks

The Siggiewi council approved a motion threatening to enact a bye law prohibiting trucks carrying stone and coarse aggregate from passing through Triq Ghar Lapsi-the road leading to Polidano’s largest hard stone quarry.
The council claims that trucks leaving the quarry are leaving a trail of dirt as construction material is allowed to fall from trucks on their way in or out of the quarry.
The council has given Polidano Brothers until 30 September to remedy the situation by keeping the road in a good state. Otherwise the council will start drafting the bye law.
The proposed bye law would ban heavy vehicles carrying construction material from entering, circulating, parking or waiting in the area between the roundabout near Polidano’s Lapsi quarry to the corner of the road intersecting with Bur il-Kbir road.
If enacted the bye law would enable fines to be issued against anyone violating the law.
Contacted by MaltaToday, Karol Aquilina, the PN’s deputy mayor of Siggiewi who proposed the motion, claimed that the situation had become intolerable especially in view of the fact that the trucks are passing in front of the Dar tal-Providenza.
“The council has been cleaning the road at its own expense and this is intolerable,” Aquilina said.
For Aquilina this situation is unacceptable because a renewal of the permit for the Lapsi quarry included a condition that the road is kept clean and this condition was also tied to a bank guarantee of EUR 3494.06.
A copy of the council’s motion proposed by Karol Aquilina and seconded by mayor Robert Musumeci was also sent to the Prime Minister and the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, who were asked to intervene.
But photos taken this week show that Ghar Lapsi road is still in a mess with stones and even rocks posing a visible danger to other drivers.
A veritable blot in a picturesque area facing Filfla and sited a few meters away from the Dar Tal-Providenza is not new to controversy.
In 2006 MEPA turned down the Siggiewi local council’s objections to a planning application by Polidano Group to continue hard stone quarry operations.
The Siggiewi council had urged MEPA to turn down the application and rehabilitate the site.
The council claimed that the road leading to a number of farms in Siggiewi was moved to the very end of the ridge, endangering the safety of those driving through it.
MEPA requires the developer to renew the application every year.
The Ghar Lapsi quarry is the largest hard stone quarry in Malta, producing high quality sand and gravel which is mostly used for concrete mixing. Four modern crushers can each produce a daily average 2,000 tonnes of material. The developers’ website claims that “this quarry will still be operational well into the third millennium, supplying Polidano Group with one of the raw materials needed for the manufacture of the product that is the mainstay of the Group, concrete.”
But various policies outlined in MEPA’s North West local plan recommend the restoration, landscaping and the reuse of these sites leading to their rehabilitation for recreational purposes. In 2001 the local council had presented a report compiled by Prof. Mario Vassallo to the Ombudsman. The report concluded that the Ghar Lapsi quarry should not have been permitted in the first place and identified a number of illegalities on this site.

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