Spin Valley revisited




Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando’s  Spin Valley is in the news once more.


MEPA has issued a permit for the use of a site at Mistra for a one-off open air disco party to be held this evening Saturday 30 May 2009 in an area protected in terms of the Habitat’s Directive of the EU.

11 months ago, on the 26th June 2008 the MEPA BOARD had withdrawn an outline permit for a permanent open-air disco on the same site in view of the fact that the proposed activities were not compatible with the same Habitat’s Directive of the EU.

MEPA has the duty to explain why it has changed its mind within the short space of 11 months when nothing else has changed : no changes to legislation, no changes to the boundaries of the protected area.

When the Government of Malta decided to designate a number of areas as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) it accepted that it had to follow the relative EU rules.  These included that the activities permitted in these SACs had to be compatible with the conservation objectives of the protected sites. Government also had to draw up management plans for the sites in order that priorities for the use of the sites is  established in such a way that the conservation objectives of the EU Habitats’ Directive are achieved.

These management plans have not been drafted to date with the result that the Competent Authority in Malta (MEPA) has effectively given itself a free hand to decide on each case separately without necessarily keeping in view the objectives of the EU Habitats Directive.

 This morning on behalf of AD together with Arnold Cassola and Yvonne Arqueros Ebejer, AD’s candidates for the EU Parliamentary elections, I explained the above during a press conference  at Mistra and announced that AD will be requesting the EU Environment Commissioner to investigate Malta’s mismanagement of SACs in breach of its obligations defined in the EU Habitats Directive.


l to r : Yvonne Arqueros Ebejer, Arnold Cassola, Carmel Cacopardo



The Press Conference with Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando listening on in the background.

WEEE Responsibility


published on 23 May 2009

by Carmel Cacopardo



The Nationalist Party’s and Alternattiva Demokratika’s 2008 electoral manifestos proposed the free distribution of energy-saving light bulbs in order to encourage energy conservation but with a difference!

Prior to that, in London, the then Labour mayor Ken Livingstone had, as part of the London Climate Change Action Plan in January 2008, launched a “light bulb amnesty” as a result of which each London household could exchange a traditional incandescent light bulb for an energy-e fficient one.

The public in Malta should be informed not only of the benefits but also as to the advisable precautions relative to the use of these energy-saving light bulbs or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

The use of CFLs, notwithstanding their price, saves about 75 per cent of electrical energy used for lighting purposes by traditional bulbs.

An educational campaign relative to breakages and disposal of CFLs is essential.

Damage to the CFL can release mercury dust to air. In other countries users have been advised that they are to vacate and ventilate rooms for about 15 minutes when CFL breakages occur. This is essential to avoid inhaling mercury dust. It is imperative that in homes and, in particular, in areas where children and the elderly and/or sick people gather, those in charge are aware as to the measures they should take. Advice is also called for as to the cleaning of the resulting breakages and the manner in which the damaged CFL is to be disposed of.

It is to be borne in mind that, due to their containing about four milligrams of mercury dust per light bulb, CFLs are subject to the provisions of the EU WEEE Directive (Waste from Electric and Electronic Equipment). This directive has been transposed into Maltese legislation through Legal Notice 63 of 2007 but it is not yet being implemented.

The EU established the framework for dealing with hazardous waste resulting from electric and electronic equipment and applied thereto the principle of producer responsibility. This means that producers and distributors (irrespective of the selling technique used) are directly responsible for the handling of this type of waste.

The government has the role of a regulator, ensuring that EU legislation is adhered to within Maltese territory. Being an EU member in my view, at least, signifies this much in addition to harping on the availability of EU funds, which assist us in attaining objectives of a better quality of life. The WEEE Directive had to be implemented in various stages between 2004 and 2006 and the Maltese government was in breach of its provisions, so much so that the EU Commission had already initiated infringement procedures against Malta due to the delay in transposing it into Maltese law.

The recently-published update to the Maltese Waste Management Strategy for public consultation postponed once more consideration of the plans for the implementation of the WEEE Directive in Malta.

Within this context, the placing of over one million CFLs in one go on the market without having in place a waste management strategy for hazardous waste is surely not environmentally responsible. While addressing the issue of energy consumption, the government is creating an equally serious problem by encouraging the use of hazardous materials without having first ensured that the required waste management infrastructure is in place and functioning.

The responsibility is not just the government’s. It has to be equally shouldered by producers and distributors who, unless they act fast, may eventually have to carry the can and pay the fines due for not assuming their producer responsibilities. Taxpayers’ monies should not be used to bail out those who have failed to shoulder their responsibilities.

Those who have advised local distributors that the management of hazardous waste is a government responsibility would do well to reconsider their position. This is an area the EU has assigned to the private sector, which must ensure that the impacts of all products it places on the market are addressed. In fact, the WEEE Directive, in addition to responsibility for today’s hazardous waste, also assigns to producers and distributors responsibility for historical waste, that is responsibility for WEEE waste generated prior to the implementation of the directive.

The point at issue is clearly the eco contribution payable on a number of electric and electronic products. Maltese business is correct in complaining that it has been shouldered with a double responsibility: responsibility for WEEE waste and simultaneous payment of eco contribution. This, however, does not exonerate businesses from putting in place a collection system for WEEE waste (including CFLs).

By failing to revisit the eco contribution regime, the government is obstructing business from moving on to shoulder its producer responsibilities. Further procrastination will not make matters any easier. It is in everybody’s interest that business conforms to its WEEE responsibilities and for that to happen the government must get out of the way.

Gonzi konvint : Cassola għall-Parlament Ewropew




Dan huwa t-transcript ta’ l-aħħar parti tad-diskors ta’ Lawrence Gonzi fil-laqgħa sigrieta li kellu mal-kaċċaturi l-Buskett :



Lawrence Gonzi: Issa x’jiġri fis-6 ta’ Ġunju jista’ jkollu effett fuq l-affarijiet għaliex fis-6 ta’ Ġunju se nagħżlu ħames deputati pero’ imbagħad wara jista’ jkun li jkun hemm is-sitt wieħed tajjeb  ……… jiġifieri oqgħodu attenti, oqgħodu attenti għaliex jekk is-sitt wieħed ikun ………… emmmm……….”


Kaċċatur: Toqgħodx tiddejjaq tgħidha… il-ħodor!!


Lawrence Gonzi: Issa, issa jiena qed noqgħod attent …………


Kaċċatur: Imma aħna ma noqgħodux!


Lawrence Gonzi: ……… Biex kulħadd jagħmel l-għażliet tiegħu. Jekk xi ħadd jgħid jiena mhux sejjer nivvota, jmorru jixxejru, ma jmurx jivvota ……………  hemm ċans li s-sitt wieħed jitla’ minn partit ieħor, ma jkunx la mill-Partit Nazzjonalista u l-anqas mill-Partit Laburista …………


Kaċċatur: Jitlaqulna ta’ veru!


Lawrence Gonzi: ……… tajjeb!  Imbagħad hemm int. U għal min qiegħed jipprova jiżvijjakom orajt, issa jiena miegħi ħadd ma qabad lambrazetta. Jien l-ebda partit Alternattiva ma qabad lambrazetta miegħi. Pero dak il-partit qabad lambrazetta ma’ xi ħadd ieħor. Miegħi ma qabadx. Jiena qabel l-elezzjoni ġenerali li għaddiet, fuq programm, ta’ Bondiplus, għedtilhom ċar u tond, intom lambrazetta ma’ dawk. Miegħi m’għandkomx x’taqsmu. Miegħi ma tagħmlux coalition. M’hemmx koalizzjoni miegħi.


Issa lil sħabkom għidulhom illi fis-6 ta’ Ġunju se nagħzlu ħamsa deputati. Pero’ bis-sitt siġġu mdendel, jiġifieri x’aktarx jekk jgħaddi dak li jgħidulu t-trattat ta’ Lisbona Malta tkun rebħet siġġu ieħor. Minn ħamsa għas-sitt wieħed huwa numru kbir. Dak il-wieħed ser ikun min mill-kandidati ta’ din l-elezzjoni  ser jibqa’ mdendel. Ħames snin ilu tafu min kien baqa’ mdendel?


Semmejtuh inthom, mhux jien. Cassola baqa’ mdendel. Tajjeb! Issa jiena nerġa’ ngħid: kulħadd jagħmel l-għażla tiegħu. Il-vot huwa tagħkom. Jien bħal ma għedt, jien dejjem hekk irraġunajt: jiena l-vot hu tiegħi u ħadd ma jindaħalli x’nagħmel bil-vot tiegħi. Nisma’, imbagħad niddeciedi jien. Intom il-vot huwa tagħkom, isimgħu, imbagħad iddeċiedu intom. Tajjeb, inħalli lil kulħadd fil-liberta’.


Jekk trid tara d-diskors kollu ara l-website tal-PN jew tal-PL !

L-Imtieħen tar-Riħ


Huwa tajjeb li fl-aħħar il-Gvern beda jiċċaqlaq biex ikun possibli li f’Malta ukoll niġġeneraw l-enerġija mir-riħ.


Beda jiċċaqlaq għax l-Unjoni Ewropea qed tagħfas. Mill-bqija m’hemm l-ebda entużjażmu.

Ħarsa lejn ir-rapport ta’ Mott MacDonald imħejji f’Jannar 2009 w intitolat Feasibility Study for Increasing Renewable Energy Credentials fil-paġna 2-3 hemm kumment dwar in-nuqqas ta’ informazzjoni fuq l-irjieħat.

Jingħad mill-konsulenti li billi l-informazzjoni li kellhom kienet dwar ir-riħ f’Ħal-Luqa, 18-il kilometru mis-Sikka l-Bajda ma tantx setgħu jkunu preċiżi f’dak li jgħidu. L-argument għaldaqstant hu dwar kif tista’ tibda tikkunsidra siti differenti biex fihom tqiegħed imtieħen tar-riħ jekk qabel ma tkunx analizzajt bir-reqqa l-qawwa tar-riħ madwar il-gżejjer Maltin u b’hekk tkun tista’ tibda bl-aħjar siti.

Dan jidher li ma sarx, kemm mir-rapport li jissemma iktar il-fuq (dak ta’ Mott MacDonald) kif ukoll mir-rapport tal-Kummissjoni Deidun intitolat “An Offshore Windfarm at Is-Sikka l-Bajda. An Evaluation of Concerns from Government Stakeholders.” datat Lulju 2008. Ir-rapport Deidun jitkellem biss dwar Is-Sikka l-Bajda, ma kellux għażla. Ma setax jikkonsidra options oħra.

Issa jiena m’għandi xejn kontra li jkun hemm l-imtieħen tar-riħ fis-Sikka l-Bajda. Imma xtaqt li nkun naf fuq liema kriterju ġie deċiż li dan ikun sit biex fih jitqegħdu l-imtieħen. Hemm min qed jgħid li din hi xi ħaġa li wieħed jaraha fl-istadju tal-analiżi tal-impatti ambjentali. Le. Qabel ma intagħżel is-sit kellu jkun hemm ġustifikazzjoni għal dan. Parti minn dak magħruf bħala Strategic Site Selection Exercise. Din setgħet issir biss a bażi ta’ kemm hu qawwi r-riħ fl-inħawi. Minn hemm imbagħad wieħed jgħaddi biex jeżamina l-impatti ambjentali, u kif dawn jistgħu jkunu mitigati.

Wara li sar ir-rapport Deidun, għax jidher li hemm problemi dwar is-sit tas-Sikka l-Bajda, l-Gvern identifika żewġ siti oħra addizzjonali : Ħal-Far u Wied Rini limiti tal-Baħrija. Araw ftit x’jingħad dwar il-qawwa tar-rih f’dawn l-inħawi fil-Project Description Statement tal-proposti għas-Sikka l-Bajda, Ħal-Far u Wied Rini.

F’kull wieħed minn dawn ir-rapporti jidher ċar li ma sar l-ebda studju iżda intuża l-kejl tar-riħ f’Ħal-Luqa. Dan iwassal għall-konlużjoni illi jista’ jkun li hemm siti oħra li huma iktar addattati biex fihom jitqegħdu l-imtieħen tar-rih. Għax tant hemm x’jgħin jew itellef li bil-kalkulazzjonijiet biss ma mhux biżżejjed.

Sfortunatament għal darba oħra l-Gvern mexa b’mod dilettantesk : l-ewwel ħa d-deċiżjoni dwar fejn irid l-imtieħen tar-riħ u issa qed jara kif jiġġustifika din id-deċiżjoni.

Nittama biss li ma jkomplix jgħaffeġ. Forsi xi darba mhux il-bogħod nibdew bħala pajjiż niġġeneraw l-enerġija mir-rih, imma dan nagħmluh b’effiċjenza.

Tackling Sustainable Development


published on May 2, 2009

by Carmel Cacopardo


Ecological Footprint analysis is a planning tool: it accounts for the manner in which the earth’s resources are used to satisfy our needs, and converts the result into the corresponding land area required. It highlights dependence on nature and quantifies this dependence, thus focusing attention on the link between consumption and the earth’s bio-capacity.

The first step in the road leading to sustainability is to understand the ecological reality of our impacts. Ignoring this reality and continuing on a business-as-usual strategy would mean that we do not care about what will be bequeathed to future generations.

Ecological Footprint analysis is therefore a tool through which we can estimate the consumption of resources and the waste assimilation requirements of an economy in terms of the land area required. It considers the land required by an economy for food, housing, transport, consumer goods and services.

The World Wide Fund publishes information on a regular basis relative to ecological footprint analysis. From the information available, Malta’s ecological footprint is 3.9 hectares per person. The EU average is 4.9 ha, ranging from a minimum of 3.6 ha for Poland and Slovakia to a maximum of 7 ha for Sweden and Finland. The world average on the other hand is 2.2 ha: the USA having a footprint of 9.5 ha, with China having a footprint of 1.5 ha. China’s footprint is obviously on the increase (source: WWF: Europe 2005, the Ecological Footprint).

With a population estimated at 410,000 and an area of 316 square kilometres, the above signifies that Malta’s consumption patterns are impacting a land area of about 50 times the size of the Maltese islands. This information could place the politics of sustainable development in Malta in its proper perspective.

Such a high impact is necessarily linked to the high population density of the Maltese islands. It is also however the result of the fact that, as a nation, we lag far behind in adopting sustainable practices. For example, as a country we did not use our small size to our advantage in order to develop sustainable transport policies that, through an increased use of public transport, could gradually lead towards the substantial reduction of road traffic. Gimmicks as those associated with the “environmental criteria” of the revised car registration and circulation tax will not solve the matter, as they are just designed to protect the Exchequer and only use environmental criteria as a means to compute taxation.

Transport is one of the issues in respect of which, a Maltese government, serious about the pursuit of sustainable development, could achieve results. Tangible results would be fewer cars on the road and, consequently, less emissions, which are damaging our health in addition to contributing towards climate change.

Readers would remember that the reform of public transport has been continuously on the agenda for at least the past 15 years. Notwithstanding the injection of millions of euros in public funds, no tangible results are yet in sight.

The use of energy is another major contributor to Malta’s ecological footprint. The projected wind farms are essential in this respect. Now that some studies and documentation has been made available to the public, an informed public discussion may be possible. It is however imperative that additional alternative sites are also taken into consideration if these are identified, even at this stage.

While macro projects are being planned, more attention should be given to initiatives on a micro level. In the area of renewable energy generation these micro projects and initiatives could, if implemented, add up to a substantial contribution to satisfy the need and demand for clean energy.

What about, for example, ensuring that all new development is provided with solar water heaters at roof level? While this would not cost one cent to the Exchequer it would undoubtedly require revisiting land use planning policies relative to the provision of penthouses, policies of which were rather relaxed in the recent past. Malta’s land use planning policies should, as a result, be less elastic than they have been in the last years in this respect.

What about the use of micro wind turbines? When will Mepa tackle the issue by producing a policy which encourages their use for discussion?

Sustainable development, if seriously tackled, could impact all areas of policy and not just those referred to above.

To actively pursue the sustainable development path, initiatives that reduce ecological impacts and simultaneously improve our quality of life are required. Notwithstanding all the talk, the government has not yet embraced this path wholeheartedly and, as a result, (unfortunately) the sustainability gap is widening. This gap can be reduced if talk and action correspond more often