Current Affairs
“Land reclamation at sea is the most long-term sustainable solution” – Jose Herrera

Environment Minister, Jose’ Herrera, said that with the economic and development growth, land reclamation at sea is necessary because it is the most long-term sustainable solution. On construction waste in abandoned quarries, Minister Herrera said he is considering whether to increase incentives or to directly intervene in the market.

The Minister stated that in the wake of the limited space for construction waste dumping and the increase in prices being requested by contractors and builders, the Government is considering to improve the fiscal incentives to abandoned quarry owners or take direct action through a legal notice.

Speaking to TVM, Dr Herrera said that the incentive of a reduction in tax offered two years ago, did not reach its aim. He warned that in case the situation remains the same, the Government will have no other choice but to intervene in the market.

“If I’m really pressed and prices go up which make them unsustainable with the result of a big backlash in the construction industry, after discussing it in the Cabinet, as a last resort I can issue a legal notice to cap prices. Something I do not wish to do because I believe in a free market economy”.

Minister Herrera made it clear that the long-term solution to the problem is land reclamation. “Our size is what it is, and in small countries who continue developing, they recurred to land reclamation at sea…..The Netherlands started this”.

The Environment and Resources Authority is studying land reclamation at sea and a report is expected to be published in the coming weeks. It will be discussed in Parliament’s Environment Committee and with environmental organisations. The Minister said that reclamation has to be carried out on the Żonqor side till Għadira.

“It cannot be done on the other side because there are cliffs; therefore if land reclamation is considered, it has to be done on that side of Malta and no where else”, he added.

Various environmental organisations, including Nature Trust, have recently criticized the land reclamation at sea proposal, while the Developers Association said that an area at sea that is environmentally acceptable for reclamation is the only solution for the lack of space for construction waste.