Nirriċiklaw l-iskart organiku

Kulma narmu għandu użu: anke ż-żibel hu utli. Is-separazzjoni tal-iskart, illum, hi parti essenzjali mir-rutina tal-ħajja tagħna. Nisseparaw il-karta, il-ħġieg, il-metall u l-plastic. Dan huwa kollu materjal li jista’ jerġa’ jintuża’. Ifisser ukoll li jkun hemm bżonn ferm inqas enerġija biex ikun hemm produzzjoni ta’ iktar karta, ħġieġ, metalli u plastic mill-prodotti li nirriċiklaw. Dawn flok ma jintremew fil-miżbla jibqgħu jiċċirkulaw fl-ekonomija. Dab hu l-bażi tal-ekonomija ċirkulari. Hu l-futur.

Nirriċiklaw ukoll l-apparat elettriku u elettroniku. It-TV, il-fridge, ir-radju, il–komputer jew il-laptop. Flok ma jintremew, illum il-ġurnata jżarmawhom biċċa biċċa u l-partijiet kollha tagħhom jerġgħu jagħmlu użu minnhom. Uħud minn dan l-apparat ikollu materjali rari: hu iktar utli għal kulħadd li minflok dawn ma jintremew jiġu utilizzati mill-ġdid.

Nirriċikaw ukoll il-batteriji għax meta dawn jintremew fil-miżbliet, biż-żmien, iniġġsu kull m’hemm u jagħmlu ħsara kbira ambjentali.

Tlett snin ilu l-Wasteserve tat bidu għal proġett pilota li ffoka fuq is-separazzjoni tal-iskart organiku. Kien proġett limitat għal numru żgħir ta’ lokalitajiet imma bl-intenzjoni li jqiegħed il-pedamenti biex is-separazzjoni tal-iskart organiku tkun prattika li tinfirex mal-pajjiż kollu. Dan fil-fatt ser jibda jseħħ minn nhar l-Erbgħa 31 t’Ottubru.

Dan l-iskart organiku jammonta għal madwar 50% tal-iskart li sal-lum inpoġġu fil-borża s-sewda li tinġabar minn wara l-bibien ta’ djarna. L-iskart organiku ser jibda jinġabar għalih f’borza bajda. F’kull residenza qed jitqassmu boroż bojod u bins apposta u ġie spjegat lilhom x’għandhom jagħmlu biex ikun jista’ jinġabar l-iskart organiku li huma jiġġeneraw.

Fil-borza l-bajda tal-iskart organiku tista’ titfa’ l-fdailjiet tal-ikel, nej jew imsajjar, ħaxix, ħut u frott, qxur tal-frott u tal-ħaxix, ħobż, teabags u kafè midħun, qxur tal-bajd, paper napkins u karti maħmuġin, weraq u fjuri. Lista twila ħafna.

L-iskart organiku fil-borża l-bajda jinġabar minn wara l-bibien tad-djar tagħna u jittieħed fl-impjant ta’ Sant Antnin f’Marsaskala fejn wara li issir verifika li fil-fatt fil-borża hemm biss skart organiku jitqiegħed f’apparat imsejjaħ waste digester fejn dan l-iskart jiddikomponi u minnu jinġabar gass li iktar tard jinħaraq biex jipproduċi l-elettriku. Minbarra l-elettriku tkun ukoll prodotta sħana li permezz tagħha, fost oħrajn, ser jissaħħan is-swimming pool tal-Fondazzjoni Inspire f’Marsaskala liema swimming pool jintuża bħala parti mill-għajnuna terrapewtika lill-komunità b’diżabilità. Dak li jibqa’, imbagħad, jintuża bħala compost. Għax fil-fatt, mill-iskart organiku, ma jintrema xejn.

Għalhekk huwa importanti li nirriċiklaw. Għax dak li, sal-lum, kull wieħed minna jarmi għandu użu. Meta nirriċiklaw nevitaw jew innaqqsu ħafna ħsara ambjentali u nagħtu kontribut biex ilkoll ngħixu ħajja aħjar.

Ir-riżultati li nkisbu mill-proġett pilota dwar is-separazzjoni tal-iskart organiku li inbeda tlett snin ilu għad m’humiex magħrufa pubblikament. Dan jeħtieġ li jsir biex ikun possibli li jsir skrutinju pubbliku adegwat. Kulħadd japprezza l-preparazzjoni estensiva biex ikun assigurat li fl-aħħar t’Ottubru l-ġbir tal-parti organika tal-iskart li niġġeneraw jimxi sewwa. Imma hemm bżonn li jkun hemm iktar informazzjoni dwar dak li sar s’issa.

Ippubblikat f’Illum: il-Ħadd 7 t’Ottubru 2018

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Recycling our organic waste

Everything we throw away has value: all our rubbish can be put to good use. Today, waste separation is an essential part of our daily chores – or it should be. We already separate paper, glass, metal and plastics from our waste. Instead of going to landfill, these resources are recirculated in the economy by being used again and again: as many times as is technically possible. This is a basic building block of the circular economy that is in the process of being established. It is the future.

We also recycle electric and electronic waste. Instead of being thrown away, televisions, refrigerators, radios, computers and laptops are disassembled with most parts being reused. The circular economy should ensure, over time, that more manufactured products are made of parts that are fully reusable. This will regenerate the constituent parts of these products when their useful life comes to an end. Most electronic goods contain rare metals that we need to preserve for future use and recycling ensures that what nature has provided is put to good use.

Three years ago, Wasteserve launched a pilot project focusing on the separation of organic waste. Limited to a small number of localities, this pilot project sought to lay the foundations for a nation-wide exercise aimed at separating organic waste and this nation-wide exercise is due to be launched on Wednesday 31 October.

Organic waste accounts for approximately 50 per cent of the waste we dispose of every day in the black bag which is collected on a door-to-door basis all over the Maltese islands. Appropriate bins and white bags are now being distributed to all households, together with information on how the collection of organic waste will take place. In the white bag for organic waste we should place food left-overs, raw or cooked, as well as used teabags, used paper napkins and similar items.

Organic waste in the white bag will be collected from our doorsteps and will be taken to  the Sant Antnin Waste Treatment Plant at Marsaskala. Here, after being checked, it will be placed in a waste digester where it decomposes and produces methane gas which is utilised to produce electricity. Other important by-products produced from organic waste are heat and compost. I am informed that, during the pilot project, the heat produced was used to heat up the water in the swimming pool of the Inspire Foundation at Marsaskala which swimming pool is utilised for therapeutic swimming.

Our organic waste is, in fact, a very useful resource – and clearly shows why it is important to recycle. All our waste can be put to good use. When we recycle we avoid, or reduce, negative environmental impacts and contribute towards a better quality of life for everyone.

The results of the pilot project on organic waste, initiated three years ago, are not available for public scrutiny. We undoubtedly welcome the extensive preparations in hand to ensure that, come 31 October, the collection of the organic part of our waste proceeds as planned. However, more information is required regarding the actual results achieved so far.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 7 October 2018

Nisseparaw l-iskart organiku

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L-iskart li narmu hu fil-parti l-kbira tiegħu utli. Għalhekk aħna dejjem imħeġġa biex nirriċiklaw dak li s-soltu narmu. Dak li nirriċiklaw jibqa’ jdur fl-ekonomija u ma jinħeliex. Għalhekk nirriċiklaw u nerġgħu nużaw il-karta, l-ħġieġ, il-metalli u l-plastic. Kollha għad għandhom użu, anke meta għalina ma jkunx għadhom utli.

Nhar il-Ġimgħa 30 t’Ottubru, l-WasteServe, flimkien mal-ħames kunsilli lokali tal-Mdina, Ħal-Għaxaq, Ta’ Xbiex, Bormla u Birkirkara ser jagħtu bidu għall-ġbir separat tal-iskart organiku. Dan ser ikun proġett pilota fuq numru ta’ ġimgħat li permezz tiegħu l-iskart organiku ser jinġabar f’dawn il-lokalitajiet darbtejn fil-ġimgħa (it-Tnejn w il-Ġimgħa). Wara, l-ġbir tal-iskart organiku jibda jsir fil-lokalitajiet kollha.

Il-parti organika tal-iskart li narmu jammonta għal ftit iktar min-nofs tal-iskart li llum inqegħdu fil-borża s-sewda. Din tidher li hi l-iktar stima korretta u tirriżulta minn stħarriġ li għamel l-Uffiċċju Nazzjonali tal-Istatistika fl-2012. Studju addizzjonali li sar f’Settembru li għadda mill-WasteServe fil-lokalitajiet li ser jipparteċipaw fil-proġett pilota jindika li l-ammont ta’ skart organiku li niġġeneraw fil-lokalitajiet tagħna jvarja anke skond il-lokalità. Dan jista’ jkun rifless ta’ stil ta’ ħajja u/jew livell ta’ għixien (ftit) differenti fil-lokalitajiet tagħna, liema differenza tinkixef anke minn eżami tal-iskart li niġġeneraw.

Sar eżerċizzju ta’ informazzjoni bieb bieb li bih r-residenti fil-ħames lokalitajiet diġa ġew infurmati x’għandhom jagħmlu. Ingħatawlhom boroż bojod u kontenituri bojod tal-plastic li minnhom tgħaddi l-arja biex iqegħdu l-boroz fihom u l-iskart ma jrejjaħx.

L-iskart organiku huwa prinċipalment fdal tal-ikel kif ukoll skart tal-ġonna. Jista’ jinkludi ukoll karti u kartun.

Meta l-iskart organiku jinġabar minn wara l-bieb tagħna, dan jittieħed fl-impjant ta’ Sant Antnin f’Wied il-Għajn fejn issir verifika li fil-borza hemm biss dak li suppost. Wara, l-iskart organiku jitqiegħed f’apparat imsejjaħ waste digester  fejn jiddikomponi u jipproduċi il-gass metanu (methane) li l-ewwel jinġabar u eventwalment jinħaraq biex jipproduċi l-elettriku.

Mill-proċess kollu tirriżulta ukoll kwantità ta’ sħana li ser tintuża biex jissaħħan l-ilma tas-swimming pool terrapewtiku li għanda l-Fondazzjoni Inspire li qiegħed  ftit il-bogħod. Li jibqa’, jintuża bħala kompost.

Dan il-proġett pilota biex jinġabar separatament l-iskart organiku għandu l-potenzjal li jnaqqas b’mod sostanzjali l-iskart li jispiċċa fil-miżbliet tagħna. L-iskart fil-borza s-sewda jista’ jonqos saħansitra bin-nofs. Il-gass li minnu jiġi prodott l-elettriku jonqos mill-emissjonijiet serra tal-pajjiż u b’hekk ukoll b’dan il-proġett inkunu qed nagħtu s-sehem tagħna biex jonqsu l-impatti li qed jagħtu kontribut għat-tibdil fil-klima.

Għalhekk hu neċessarju li nisseparaw l-iskart. Għax innaqqsu l-impatti ambjentali u fl-istess ħin inkunu qed nagħtu l-kontribut żgħir tagħna biex titjieb il-kwalità tal-ħajja ta’ kulħadd.

ippubblikat fuq iNews it-Tnejn 26 t’Ottubru 2015

Our waste has good value

organic waste

 

Our waste can be put to good use, which is why we are encouraged to separate and recycle what we would otherwise throw away. Our waste contains plenty of useful resources which can be recovered and re-circulated in our economy and we separate paper, glass, metals and plastic, all of which can be reused.

We also recycle electric and electronic equipment such as televisions, radios, refrigerators,  PCs and laptops. Instead of being thrown away, disintegrating into a chemical soup in a landfill, this equipment will be dismantled into its component parts, most of which can be reused. Most  electronic equipment  nowadays makes use of some rare metal and it is in everybody’s interest that such resources are recycled.

Next Friday, 30 October, state waste management operator WasteServe, in conjunction with the five local councils of Mdina, Ħal-Għaxaq, Ta’ Xbiex, Bormla and Birkirkara will commence the separate collection of organic waste in Malta. This pilot project will run for a number of weeks during which separated organic waste will be collected twice weekly (on Mondays and Fridays) after which it will be extended to the rest of our localities.

The organic fraction of our waste may be as high as 52 per cent of the waste discarded by each household in the black garbage bags. This, apparently, is the most accurate estimate to date resulting from a National Statistics Office study carried out in 2012 entitled Household Waste Composition Survey. A more recent waste characterisation exercise, carried out by WasteServe itself in the localities participating in the pilot project, indicates that the size of the organic waste percentage varies in the different localities. This may be the result of different lifestyles, as a result of which we tend to have different patterns of behaviour that are even evident in our waste.

WasteServe has already organised a door-to-door information exercise explaining their role to residents of the five localities, who have also been supplied with white bags in which they are to collect organic waste, as well as suitably aerated bins in which to place these bags.

Organic waste, sometimes referred to as “green waste”, is organic material such as food and garden waste. It can also include animal and plant-based material and degradable carbon such as paper and cardboard.

The organic waste collected from our doorsteps will be delivered to the Sant Antnin Waste Treatment Plant at Marsascala where it is verified that the white bags contain only organic waste. It is then placed in a waste digester where, as a result of its decomposing in the absence of oxygen, it will produce the gas methane, which is collected and used to produce electricity.

In addition, the heat produced will be used to heat the therapeutic swimming pool at the neighbouring Inspire Foundation, a considerable help to the foundation’s clients. The remainder is then used as compost.

The organic waste pilot project thus has the potential to substantially reduce the  waste that currently ends up at the Magħtab landfill. In addition, when the methane resulting from its decomposition is used to produce electricity, we will also be reducing the emission of a greenhouse gas which is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This will be an additional step in reducing Malta’s contribution to climate change.

These are the practical reasons why it is imperative that we recycle. We reduce our negative environmental impact and, as a result, create the conditions for a better quality of life for everyone.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday 25 October 2015

Il-PN u l-ambjent: l-impjant ta’ Sant Antnin : żball jew sabutaġġ?

Pullicino.SAntnin

Nhar il-Ħadd 7 ta’ Ġunju 2015, il-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni Simon Busuttil qalilna li l-PN ħa diversi żbalji fuq materji ambjentali. Anżi. Żied jgħidilna li jaf li dwar l-ambjent il-PN m’għandux fama tajba. Imma, żied jgħid Simon Busuttil, il-PN tgħallem mill-iżbalji tiegħu u jaf fejn għandu jtejjeb lilu innifsu (Il-Malta Today irrappurtatu jgħid hekk : “He acknowleged the PN’s unfavourable track record on environmental matters  but said that the party had learnt from its mistakes and knew where to improve.”)

Imma, kif diġa għidt, ir-rapport tat-telfa tal-istess PN għall-elezzjoni tal-2013 ma jitkellimx dwar żbalji imma dwar sabutaġġ. Jiġifieri dwar tfixkil. Dan ir-rapport kien iffirmata, fost oħrajn minn Ann Fenech (illum President tal-Kumitat Eżekuttiv tal-PN) u minn Rosette Thake (illum Segretarju Ġenerali tal-PN).

Ikun tajjeb kieku Simon Busuttil jgħidilna liema kienu dawn l-iżbalji li l-Partit Nazzjonalista tgħallem minnhom.

Pereżempju, l-impjant ta’ Sant’ Antnin f’Marsasakala, dan kien każ ta’ żball ambjentali jew każ ta’ sabutaġġ? Mela ejja niftakru ftit minn dak li ġara dwar l-impjant tar-riċiklaġġ tal-iskart f’Sant’ Antnin, Marsaskala.

Il-impjant kif riedu l-Gvern immexxi minn Lawrence Gonzi kien propost li jsir fuq art tal-qies ta’ 45,000 metru kwadru (4.5 hectares). Dik hi l-area tal-impjant ta’ Sant’Antnin.

Meta ġew meqjusa artijiet alternattivi ġew ippreżentati tlett possibilitajiet oħra :  f’Wied Għammieq il-Kalkara, L-Għallies il-Magħtab limiti tan-Naxxar u l-Mara Bengħajsa limiti ta’ Birżebbuġa.

L-art f’Wied Għammieq Kalkara kellha qies ta’ 24,000 metru kwadru (2.4 hectares), madwar nofs ta’ dak li kien meħtieġ .

L-art fl-Għallies, Magħtab limiti tan-Naxxar kellha qies ta’ 20,000 metru kwadru (2 hectares), inqas min-nofs ta’ dak li kien meħtieġ.

L-art fil-Mara, Bengħajsa, limiti ta’ Birżebbuġa kellha qies ta’ 17,000 metru kwadru (1.7 hectares), ħafna inqas min-nofs ta’ dak li kien.

Kull waħda mit-tlett alternattivi kien ferm iżgħar mill-qies tas-sit f’Sant Antnin, u allura kien ovvju li ma kien hemm l-ebda proposta ta’ sit alternattiva għal Sant’ Antnin.  Ta’ l-inqas hekk ried min għażel l-alternattivi.   Qiesu ried li l-impjant isir bil-fors f’Sant’Antnin.

Dan kien żball, jew sabutaġġ? Għidulna ftit. Min għamel l-iżball, inkella min għamel is-sabutaġġ?

 

ippubblikat fuq iNews l-Erbgħa 10 ta’ Ġunju 2015

Ir-riżenja ta’ George Pullicino

Naf li qed noħlom meta ngħid li George Pullicino għandu jirreżenja. Imma naf ukoll li l-politika hi t-twettiq tal-ħolm.

Pullicino għandu jirreżenja għax arroganti u inkompetenti. Dwar l-arroganza tiegħu inkiteb ħafna matul il-perjodu li kien responsabbli għall-MEPA. L-agħar perjodu għal ħafna snin għall-ambjent f’pajjiżna.

Nhar is-7 t’Awissu 2012 il-Kummissjoni Ewropea ippubblikat rapport analitiku dwar kif qed titħaddem fis-27 pajjiż membru l-politika dwar l-immaniġjar tal-iskart. Dan ir-rapport hu intitolat Screening of Waste Management Performance of EU Member States.

F’dan ir-rapport Malta ġiet ikklassifikata fost dawk il-pajjiżi li għandhom deficit fi prattikament l-oqsma kollha tal-implimentazzjoni tal-politika tal-immaniġjar tal-iskart. Ir-rapport hu iktar iebes minn hekk, juża l-kliem implementation gap. Jiġifieri ghad baqa’ ħafna ħafna xi jsir biex il-paroli u l-fatti ma jibqgħux jikkuntrastaw!

Il-Greċja u l-Bulgarija biss ġew ikklassifikati agħar minn pajjiżna. Il-Greċja qegħda f’tarf ta’ kollass ekonomiku u l-Bulgarija mifnija bil-korruzzjoni! Il-Litwanja kklassifikati daqsna!

Dak ċertifikat!

Għal dawn l-aħħar tmien snin ir-responsabbilta’ politika għall-politika dwar l-iskart kienet ta’ George Pullicino.

Kienet responsabbilta li għaddhielu Lawrence Gonzi fl-ewwel Kabinett tiegħu. Responsabbilta’ li ħadha mingħand Ninu Zammit u għaddiha lil Pullicino f’Marzu 2004.

F’dawn it-tmien snin Pullicino iktar kien moħħu fil-konfront politiku bħal dak li infexx fih f’Marsaskala dwar l-Impjant ta’ Sant Antnin milli li jiżviluppa politika dwar l-iskart li taħdem għax hi aċċettata. Bl-arroganza tipika tiegħu rnexxielu jkisser il-possibilita ta’ kunsens mal-komunitajiet u tefa lura ħafna l-iżvilupp ta’ sens komunitarju fil-politika tal-immaniġjar tal-iskart. Ir-riperkussjonijiet għadhom qed jinħassu anke’  illum.

Hu veru li r-rapport tal-Kummissjoni Ewropea janalizza l-qagħda kif kienet sentejn ilu u dan għax jaħdem fuq statistika u rapporti li ilhom ftit ippubblikati. Imma dan ma jgħoddx biss għal pajjiżna. Jgħodd ukoll għal pajjiżi bħall-Awstrija, l-Olanda, id-Danimarka u l-Ġermanja li kienu fuq quddiem nett fil-klassifika u komplew jissaħħew!

Anke’ jekk imxejna ftit il-quddiem, ftit iktar milli jindika r-rapport, xorta għadna lura ħafna. Għal dan jaħti biss George Pullicino.

Ir-rapport juri falliment fil-parti l-kbira mill-kriterji addottati biex jitkejjel il-performance tal-pajjiżi membri tal-Unjoni Ewropea.

Dan hu ċertifikat ta’ falliment li għalih għandu jassumi responsabbilta politika l-Ministru George Pullicino. Jiġifieri għandu jkun raġel u jgħid “fallejt” u jirreżenja. Jagħmel il-wisa’ għal min jista’ jagħti kontribut pożittiv għall-implimentazzjoni tal-politika dwar l-iskart.

St John’s Beheaded ?

25 October 2008

by Carmel Cacopardo

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The ongoing debate of where to house exhibits related to St John’s Co-Cathedral at times appeared to be getting out of hand. Contrary to what some would have us believe, it is an issue which should not be left exclusively to the experts! St John’s belongs to the nation.

The fact that it is the subject of a public debate is healthy and we should thank the NGOs Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar and Friends of the Earth for having had the foresight to understand that bringing up the matter in the public domain would encourage the search for and the analysis of alternative solutions.

St John’s Co-Cathedral is not just a place of worship. It is also a museum and, indirectly, a money spinner. The monies generated from those visiting pay for its upkeep. Placing more exhibits on view would make St John’s Museum more attractive to tourists. It will also, however, make the provision of a decent space for the exhibits a necessity. So runs the thinking of the foundation in charge of St John’s.

So the proposal is to consider the manner in which additional exhibition space is to be provided. One such idea was to roof over the knights’ graveyard, bordering Merchants’ Street and reconstructed as part of War Damage. Since St John’s Co-Cathedral complex is a scheduled Grade 1 monument in its entirety this proposal is clearly out of the question: Grade 1 monuments are untouchable!

A second proposal is to excavate below St John’s Square and below parts of St John’s Street and Merchants’ Street, Valletta.

Even if one were to (temporarily) set aside the issue of dust and quantities of excavated rock resulting from such works, a matter which merits consideration is that the proposal to excavate would possibly damage the underground tunnels housing Valletta’s sewers, which tunnels meander below Valletta’s streets. Having, as a civil engineer in the then Drainage Section of the Works Department in the early 1980s, walked through most of these tunnels I clearly recollect that they have a varying width and do not run in straight lines but approximately in diagonals below most of Valletta streets. This would not necessarily show up in the available drawings and would require verification through a detailed survey. The proposed excavation would thus mean that these tunnels, a 450-year old civil engineering feat, could be damaged.

This would consequently exclude from consideration most of the areas earmarked for excavation leaving available just two options: the utilisation of existing vacant properties in the vicinity or else limiting access in the same manner as is being done in the case of the Ħal-Saflieni Temples.

I am pointing this out of concern as there seems to be an underlying interest to create an artificial barrier between those in favour and those against the foundation’s proposals. In reality, it should not be an issue of being in favour or against but in seeking the best way forward in the interests of a better protection and appreciation of our heritage.

The matter will be subject to an environmental impact assessment (EIA) whose terms of reference are being drafted.

It may be worth pointing out that in the short time that EIAs have been carried out in Malta (as far as I am aware) there has not been one instance where the assessors have been critical of a project such that it was abandoned or subjected to substantial modification. This, in my view, is the result of the manner in which members of the EIA team are appointed.

The responsibility of Mepa in vetting the appointment of the EIA team by the St John’s Co-Cathedral Foundation is enormous. The public needs to be assured that the EIA exercise will not be one of trying to justify the foundation’s proposal. There have been too many instances where an EIA in Malta was effectively used or perceived to have been used for this purpose – the flawed site selection exercise relative to the Sant’Antnin waste management plant at Marsascala being one of the most notable examples. In that instance, serious deficiencies in the site selection exercise were ignored, thereby fuelling opposition to a project which, if properly assessed, could have led to different conclusions as well as universal acceptance.

I am purposely limiting myself to the above issues. There are others related to the running costs of providing an adequate internal environment for the exhibits.

It is obvious that this could be much more costly if an underground space is excavated then if a built-up space above ground level is utilised.

Protecting our heritage includes speaking up whenever necessary. Let the discussion continue until all the difficulties raised have been examined. Only then can a reasonable solution be considered but not a beheading!

Addressing Our Environmental Deficit

published on Sunday 27 July 2008

by Carmel Cacopardo

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 In his address to Parliament last May, the President had stated: “The government’s plans and actions are to be underpinned by the notion of sustainable development of the economy, of society and of the environment. When making decisions today, serious consideration will be given to the generations of tomorrow.”

In December 2006, the National Sustainability Commission had drawn up the National Sustainable Development Strategy. Having been approved by Cabinet, it is appropriate that the pre-budget document just published ignites the debate on its implementation. The strategy is a blueprint for action representing a holistic perspective as to how this country should be administered. Its eventual handling will in due course give a clear indication of the government’s real views on sustainable development.

Malta’s energy policy is undoubtedly up for an upheaval. Due to the absence of strategic planning over the years, Malta is one of the few countries without any significant alternative energy generated. Other countries identified their vulnerability because of fuel oil dependency years ago and took action. Denmark has since built up its wind energy industry from scratch since the oil crises in the 1970s and is now a world leader. In 2005 Denmark generated 18.5 per cent of its electrical energy needs through wind.

The pre-budget document identifies near shore wind technology as the next step forward, contributing 95MW of wind energy or seven per cent of Malta’s projected electricity demand in 2010. The shortfall in meeting the EU target of having 10 per cent of electricity demand met by alternative energy is planned to be met with wind turbines at other exposed land sites and industrial estates, including those to be identified within the framework of the eco-Gozo project.

The pre-budget document focuses on macro-generation and does not give sufficient weight to micro-generation of energy, both with small wind turbines as well as with photovoltaic panels. It must be borne in mind that micro-generation if adequately motivated could add up to a substantial amount of energy generated through alternative technology. In addition to residential application (not flats or maisonettes!), schools and public buildings could be ideal sites for the micro-generation of energy. Moreover, one can consider fitting micro-turbines to the structures of the hundreds of disused windmills (water pumps) that pepper the countryside. These windmills were strategically located by our ancestors in wind-prone areas and are now an integral part of the Maltese countryside.

The pre-budget document rightly refers to energy generated through waste. It speaks of the generation of electricity using animal waste through biogas in a facility to be constructed in the north of the island. This is a long overdue initiative. However, I believe that it is badly conceived. The lessons that should have been learnt following the Sant’ Antnin debacle seem to have been forgotten.

The point at issue is whether one facility covering the whole island is sufficient or desirable. Would it be a good idea to transport animal manure across the whole island to a facility in the north?

One point resulting from the public debate relative to the Sant’ Antnin waste recycling plant was the applicability of the proximity principle. The required plant should be sited as close as possible to the source of the waste being processed. This had led to the Sant ‘Antnin projected operation itself being scaled down to deal with one third of the islands’ waste. The rest, it was stated, should be processed on other sites (possibly two) that have not yet been identified! These other sites should be used for the production of biogas too and they should be identified in a location as close as possible to those areas that have the largest number of animal farms in order to minimise the movement of animal waste. Knowing that a number of these farms are sited very close to each other should make matters easier for our waste management planners.

Bad planning brings out another sore point, which was not discussed in the pre-budget document: namely the management of our water resources. Groundwater (a ‘free’ source of freshwater) still accounts for 40 per cent of our potable water supply. Groundwater accounts for the greater part of the water used by agriculture, the construction sector, landscaping activities and various other industrial and commercial concerns, including some hotels which are supplied by bowsers. However, as a result of over-extraction, the quality of the water in the aquifer is becoming saltier by the day and will become useless within our lifetime.

Yet, illegal extraction of ground water continues unabated and the authority responsible for the sustainable use of this precious resource (the Malta Resources Authority) persists in not taking any concrete action. The recent increase in the surcharge on mains water will inevitably result in a rush to drill more boreholes and extract more groundwater, with the consequence that our aquifer will die an earlier death.

Within this context, the construction of wastewater treatment plants treating urban wastewater and discharging it directly into the sea assumes an alarming relevance. A country whose natural water resources are not sufficient for its use ought to manage its water resources in a much better way. It certainly ought not to permit the illegal extraction of water or the discharge of treated water into the sea. The siting of the wastewater treatment plants in Malta and Gozo is such that discharging treated water into the sea is a foregone conclusion. This decision, undoubtedly arrived at based on the original siting of the sewage outfalls, ignores the possibilities to reuse the treated water, either as a second-class source or (with additional treatment) as potable water. Other developed countries, notably Singapore, produce an ever-increasing percentage of their potable water in this manner. This issue is ignored in the pre-budget report.

All this could easily have been prevented with a proper water management planning strategy, which, instead of large-scale plants for wastewater treatment, could have identified a number of smaller sites along the sewer route on the islands for the construction of small packaged wastewater treatment plants. These would have provided ample treated effluent where and when required for agricultural use, landscaping and other uses not requiring water of potable quality – at little or no distribution costs. The widespread availability of this water would have substituted the need to extract groundwater and facilitated the required enforcement action on its illegal extraction.

The total costs would have been substantially less. By costs I do not just mean economic ones but also the ecological cost of losing a strategic resource (the aquifer), which loss will have to be borne by future generations.

As indicated in the public hearings carried out by Minister Tonio Fenech, the pre-budget document deals with the sustainability of localities, rightly linking this issue to the proposed reform of local councils. It refers to the need for localities to draw up a Local Sustainable Development Strategy. In environmental management, we normally consider this within the Local Agenda 21 process currently espoused by thousands of localities around the globe: think global act local.

The sustainable localities proposal is undoubtedly well intentioned, and if adequately planned and applied can lead to positive results. The difficulty that will arise is that of economies of scale. Our localities vary substantially in size: from the largest – Birkirkara, to the smallest – San Lawrenz in Gozo. I believe that the best manner to apply Local Agenda 21 in Malta would be on a regional level. It would entail the setting up an additional level of local government that could be made up of all the local councils in the region. One possibility for the identification of regions would be to follow the boundaries of the seven local plans. These regions could be the channel for drawing up a Local Agenda 21 in conformity with national policy and strategies, which allow ample room for adequate planning. The proposed Conference on Local Sustainable Development would be a good start.

The basic point at issue in all deliberations is to view the economy as a tool at the service of the eco-system rather than as master of all. Adopting sustainable development as a policy instrument is no easy task. It entails taking a holistic view of public administration and its consequences. It signifies that national policy and administrative action need to have a continuous long-term view.

Economic policy generally takes on board social policy. It now needs to ensure that it is subservient to the eco-system because at the end of the day the eco-system is the source of our being. It is only at this point that we will be in a position to settle our country’s accumulated environmental deficit!

Il-Messaġġ dwar l-Impjant tal-Iskart f’Sant Antnin Marsaskala

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Il-Messaġġ dwar l-impjant ta’ riċiklaġġ tal-iskart f’Sant Antnin Marsaskala wasal ċar għand kulħadd. Allura dawk li ma għoġobhomx minflok ma jiddiskutu l-messaġġ qed jattakkaw lili ! Xejn ġdid f’dan.

 

Huwa utli għaldaqstant li nwieġeb uħud mill-attakki li saru :

 

1)      qalu li r-rapport huwa tiegħi u allura ma jiswiex : filwaqt li l-investigazzjoni għamiltha jiena (kif għamilt ħafna oħrajn) dan ir-rapport kien approvat mill-Perit Joe Falzon u mibgħut lill-MEPA iffirmat minnu; huwa rapport preliminari li jispjega x’investigazzjoni saret u l-konklużjonijiet relevanti;

2)      qalu li qed nipprova nieħu xi vantaġġ personali : ir-rapport ippubblikajtu issa minħabba li l-Gvern injora l-fatt illi hemm numru ta’ appelli kif ukoll kawżi pendenti; biex jiġi ippubblikat ir-rapport il-MEPA tippretendi li jispiċċaw il-kawżi, imma biex jibda jaħdem l-impjant ħadd ma stenna li l-kawżi jispiċċaw;

3)      qalu li l-Alternattiva Demokratika ma tridx li jkun hemm impjant tar-riċiklaġġ tal-iskart : din ħrafa oħra; l-AD hi konxja dwar l-obbligi li Malta għandha biex tnaqqas l-ammont ta’ skart ġġenerat u mitfuħ fil-miżbliet; l-AD kienet u għadha kontra l-impjant kif propost; hi kontra l-mod kif l-awtoritajiet irromblaw minn fuq ir-residenti;

4)      qalu li r-rapport jgħid li d-deċiżjoni dwar l-għażla tas-sit hi tajba : ir-rapport jgħid affarijiet differenti minn hekk; jgħid li ma sarx sforż biżżejjed biex jinstab sit alternattv kif ukoll li l-uniku sit li seta kien tajjeb dak f’Ħal-Far ġie skartat mingħajr ma ngħataw raġunijiet tajba għal dan; jekk il-MEPA kienet konxja li kien hemm diffikulta biex tinstab art ta’ daqs tajjeb ħalli fiha jsir l-impjant kellha toqgħod ħafna iktar attenta biex tispjega sewwa dak li għamlet;

5)      intqal li l-Ministru kellu l-obbligu li jieħu sehem fil-laqgħat : dan m’huwiex veru; il-MEPA twaqqfet (fost affarijiet oħra) biex il-politiku ma jieħux sehem fil-ħruġ tal-permessi; l-anqas dawk li jikkonċernaw lill-Gvern; kien l-obbligu tal-Bord tal-MEPA li jara li l-affarijiet jimxu sewwa u l-Ministru ma kienx hemm bżonn li jindaħal;

  Fid-dawl ta’ dak kollu li ntqal huwa tajjeb li ngħid mill-ġdid li l-AD trid li jsiru malajr kemm jista’ jkun l-istudji li għadhom ma sarux, jiġifieri dawk dwar is-saħħa, dwar l-impatt fuq il-kwalita’ tal-arja u l-irwejjah. Huwa meta jkunu saru dawn l-istudji li jkunu jistgħu jittieħdu d-deċiżjonijiet dwar x’inhu meħtieġ li jsir iktar fl-impjant ta’ Sant Antnin Marsaskala.  Imma fuq kollox huwa meħtieġ illi  l-iżbalji li saru f’Marsaskala ma jsirux fiż-żewġ impjanti l-oħra li ghad iridu jsiru.

Mill-blog ta’ George Pullicino

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Fil-blog tiegħu George Pullicno (http://georgepullicino.blogspot.com/) nhar il-Ħadd 17 ta’ Frar 2008 kiteb hekk :

 “Illum wara nofsinhar kien hawn min ħaseb li billi jippubblika rapport mhux finali ta’ l-uffiċċju ta’ l-awditur tal-MEPA, kien ser iħammarli wiċċi. Jien mhux talli ma ħammarlix wiċċi, talli jien kburi li qdejt ir-responsabilitajiet tiegħi bħala Ministru responsabbli mill-imaniġġjar ta’ l-iskart biex nevitaw li pajjiżna jgħaddi minn dak li għaddejjin minnu pajjiżi ġirien tagħna.” 

Xejn ma niskanta li wiċċu m’għadux jiħmar. Kollox jindara!

 

Fis-snin 70 il-Ministru Soċjalista inkarigat mill-Ippjanar kien jabbuża u jindaħal fejn ma jesgħux kif ġie ippruvat fil-Qrati Maltin. Imma dakinnhar ma kienx hemm istituzzjonijiet.

 

Illum hemm l-istituzzjonijiet. Pullicino hu responabbli biex illum fl-2008 dawn l-istituzzjonijiet huma bla snien. B’hekk meta jindaħal min  ma jesgħux, bħalu, ħadd m’hu kapaċi jiddefendi l-interessi tal-pajjiż.

 

Il-problema hi li hu kburi b’dak li għamel. X’aktarx li għadu ma fehem xejn dwar il-ħsara li għamel !