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NEWS | Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Countryside clean-up operations continue

The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) in collaboration with the Parliamentary Secretary for Public Dialogue and Information and the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs (MRRA) has moved its direct action operation to the south of Malta as it continues with its extensive and on-going efforts to free the Island from derelict sites in the country-side that are an eyesore and causing a nuisance to amenity.
A task force led by the parliamentary secretariat was set up to work on the Derelicts on Site Exercise (DOSE). Local Councils were asked to involve themselves in the spotting of such sites and forward photos and site-plans of illegal scrap metal in their respective localities.
Part of this operation includes the removal of illegal scrap, abandoned cars and disused tanks from a large quarry in the whereabouts of Wied Ganu limits of Zurrieq. This quarry, which was served with an enforcement notice, had large quantities of illegal scrap metal dispersed around the site. The owner of this quarry fully co-operated and removed most of the illegal material on his own initiative, with the authority needing to intervene on a minimal level.
Addressing the media on this initiative in Zurrieq, MEPA chairman Mr Austin Walker stressed that “the Authority and the Ministries that are partnering in this initiative are encouraged that the more time passes, the more people are co-operating and understanding that we are serious about our intent of freeing the Maltese countryside from the plague of illegally dumped material.
“A case in point is the situation in Hal Safi – here all derelict sites that had been identified and served with an enforcement notice have today been cleared by their respective owners on their own initiative. It makes financial sense too – at a place where the Authority carries out a direct action, the owner is liable to foot the bill of the operation and looses out on the value of the material that would have been confiscated.”
Parliamentary Secretary Chris Said said that through this initiative government is sending a clear message that action is being undertaken to clear urban and rural zones from derelict objects which have been lying around and accumulating for a long period of time. Ongoing work will continue taking place until sites have been cleared from abandoned objects which leave a negative impact on the surrounding environment.
Said referred to latest statistics related to this initiative and highlighted its progress. Statistics reveal that 54% of the identified sites around Malta and Gozo were cleared by landowners prior the need for the Direct Action Team (DAT) to enter on site. This extensive and ongoing operation has to date covered the localities of Mellieha, Zurrieq, Hal Safi and Nadur.
Minister George Pullicino said that the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs, through its PARKS department and the CSD which is responsible for public cleansing, is continuously working to clear out and separate waste from rural sites, including bulky refuse such as construction waste and wood. A total 564 tons of waste was collected by these two departments within one year. The minister also made a reference to the Bulky Refuse service offered to Local Councils, which is being offered free of charge within localities.
The Authority reminds the public that they can report any abandoned large metal items to their Local Councils. Owners who wish to dispose of bulky metal objects can do so by calling 2360 5104 or 8007 6608.


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