Malta Freeport :Impacts on residents should be dealt with effectively

AD supports Birzebbuga Local Council in its actions to protect residents from the further deterioration of their quality of life.

Michael Briguglio AD Chairperson stated that the activities of the Freeport should not be further increased until such time that the present impacts on the residents are dealt with effectively. It is for this specific purpose that AD through its spokesperson for Sustainable Development  Carmel Cacopardo had proposed the need for an Environmental Management System to be adopted by the Freeport Terminal way back in February 2009 when MEPA was considering the development applications.

Carmel Cacopardo AD spokesperson on Sustainable Development and Local Government pointed out that MEPA has started meeting with the Freeport Terminal representatives in order to identify the environmental issues to be tackled. It is shameful, he added, that MEPA has not felt the need to involve the Birzebbuga Local Council in these crucial talks.

Carmel Cacopardo concluded by inviting Dr Gonzi as the Minister responsible for both the Environment and Local Councils to ensure that MEPA lives up to its obligations and involves the Birzebbuga Local Council in these meetings.

The Freeport : will MEPA backtrack ?

times_of_malta196x703

published on Saturday, March 21, 2009

by Carmel Cacopardo

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On February 26, during a public session, the Mepa board discussed development proposed at Malta Freeport. It decided that the approved development was to include a condition that an environmental permit relative to Freeport operations was henceforth to be a requirement and that this was to be underpinned by an environmental management system (EMS).

I was fortunate enough to participate in this discussion on behalf of AD and in support of the Birżebbuġa local council. I stressed the need to address and contain the impacts of Malta Freeport on the local residents through an EMS, which would be subject to environmental auditing.

This decision by the Mepa board is of the utmost importance. For the first time, Mepa has intervened in order that local industry adopts an EMS into its control mechanisms. In Malta, to date, this has only been carried out by companies operating as part of an international set-up, such as ST and the pharmaceutical companies that have set up shop recently.

The Freeport needs to understand that it has to behave as a good neighbour to the Birżebbuġa community. Economic activity on its own, generating profits and employment, though essential, is not sufficient. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) needs to be factored in. CSR is not about corporate sponsorships and donations: it is about the responsible behaviour of business and industry. Acting responsibly includes ensuring that the impacts of industrial activity are addressed.

This would undoubtedly entail costs. Currently, these costs are inexistent on the Freeport balance sheet: they are being borne directly by the Birżebbuġa community and paid for through an inferior quality of life. These hidden costs (externalities) include but are not limited to the contamination of the bay, the emissions to air from the various activities going on within the Freeport perimeter and noise at all times of the day, most notably during the silent hours.

Malta Freeport Terminal has been assigned to CMA-CGM, the third largest shipping container company in the world. They have commenced direction of the terminal for a period of 65 years pursuant to a decision of Parliament.

Given its size, CMA-CGM operates from a large number of ports around the globe in which they have built a solid reputation. Their website proudly and justifiably reveals that they have an environmental policy which aims at “protecting the marine environment, fighting climate change and developing eco-friendly services and solutions”. The CMA-CGM group also prides itself with the award received for the second year running from the Port of Long Beach, California as part of its Green Flag Programme. This award, according to the CMA-CGM website, reflects their commitment to environmental protection!

The Green Port Policy of the Port of Long Beach has five guiding principles, the first one of which is “the protection of the community from harmful environmental impacts of port operations”. The latest available annual report (2007) for the Port of Long Beach, entitled Reshaping A Vibrant Community, emphasises that the port takes a leadership role in the development of strategies to mitigate security risks in the port complex. Of particular interest is the section in the said report (page 17) which speaks of “Exporting Green policy to seaports worldwide”. Linking with such a vision on the part of CMA-CGM should put the minds of Birżebbuġa residents at rest! Will it?

So far, globalisation and its cousin competition policy have been the vehicle for privatisation, deregulation and economic fundamentalism. The global players imported within our shores to take charge of sections of the Maltese economy have yet to bring along their best environmental practices such that it be ensured that the communities in which they operate are not burdened with the hidden costs of their operations. To date, it has been a globalisation of opportunities for profit seekers, responsibilities lagging far behind! CSR is hardly in sight!

The Mepa board decision of February 26 paves the way for Malta Freeport to be compelled to manage its environmental externalities. It is indeed noteworthy to see that Mepa has, following public participation, taken a leaf out of the CMA-CGM environmental policy and included this as one of the conditions of the development permit.

On February 26, the Mepa board, in addition to underlining the fact that Malta Freeport needs to address its environmental impact, refused one of its applications: that dealing with an extension of the Terminal One West Quay. It is hoped that the Freeport will be capable of deciphering the writing on the wall. By determining that an EMS should underpin an environmental permit regulating the Freeport operations, the Mepa board has identified the way forward. Its neighbours hope that Malta Freeport will move along that path and that Mepa will not backtrack after the June MEP elections!

Kisba importanti wara suġġeriment ta’ AD – MEPA accepts AD proposal

 

Stqarrija ta’ AD

AD Press Release

 

birzebbuga

Alternattiva Demokratika hi sodisfatta illi fid-deliberazzjonijiet tiegħu
il-Bord tal-MEPA, iktar kmieni llum, huwa hu jiddeċiedi dwar waħda
mill-applikazzjonijiet konnessi mal-Port Ħieles aċċetta proposta li saret
mill-kelliemi ta’ AD dwar l-Izvilupp Sostenibbli u l-Gvern Lokali l-Perit
Carmel Cacopardo.
Arnold Cassola, Chairperson ta’ AD, qal illi l-Bord tal-MEPA rabat il-ħruġ
ta’ permess ambjentali għall-operazzjonijiet tal-Port Ħieles mal-ħtieġa illi
tkun introdotta EMS (Evironmental Management System). Kien ta’ sodisfazzjon
żied jgħid Arnold Cassola li d-Direttur għall-Ħarsien tal-Ambjent Martin
Seychell qabel mal-proposta li saret
minn Cacopardo u ppropona emenda
għall-permess liema emenda ġiet approvata mill-Bord.

Carmel Cacopardo kelliem tal-Partit għall-Iżvilupp Sostenibbli u l-Gvern Lokali
ikkonkluda billi qal li l-adozzjoni mill-Port Ħieles ta’ EMS ser tfisser li
fuq perjodu ta’ żmien ikunu introdotti l-mekkaniżmi ħalli l-Port Ħieles
jindirizza l-impatti ambjentali tiegħu u b’hekk titjieb il-kwalita’ tal-ħajja tar-residenti ta’  Birżebbuga.

Alternattiva Demokratika ser tibqa’ ssegwi dan il-każ u tagħti l-appoġġ sħiħ tagħha lill-Kunsill ta’ Birżebbuġa.

****
AD The Green Party in Malta is extremely satisfied that in its deliberations the
MEPA Board earlier today, when discussing one of the development applications
relative to the Freeport accepted a proposal made by AD’s spokesperson on
Sustainable Development and Local Government Architect Carmel Cacopardo.
Arnold Cassola AD Chairperson said that the MEPA Board linked the issuance of the environmental permit relative to the Freeport operations to a requirement of
introducing an
EMS (Environmental Management System). It was quite satisfying added Arnold Cassola that the Director for Protection of the Environment Martin Seychell agreed to Cacopardo’s proposal and subsequently he proposed an amendment to the permit which was approved by the Board.

Carmel Cacopardo party Spokesperson on Sustainable Development and Local
Government concluded by stating that the adoption by Freeport of an EMS will
signify that over a short time-frame the
Freeport
will introduce the necessary
controls such that it will be in a position to address its environmental impacts
and consequently improve the quality of life of Birzebbuġa residents. AD will
keep on monitoring this issue in full support of the Birzebbuġa Local Council.
Ralph Cassar
PRO