The sheer scale of illegal concrete plant activity in Malta has left the Planning Authority with little choice but to explore giving out amnesties, as closing down all the illegal plants would cripple the construction industry.

A recent exercise by the Planning Authority showed there are 17 illegal batching plants, with 14 in Malta and three in Gozo, according to a source familiar with the construction industry.

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

The source said many of these plants had been operating for years.

Some of the plants had consistently ignored the PA’s enforcement notices and had never bothered applying for a permit.

Many of the big names in the construction industry are operating illegal plants, the source confirmed.

In a statement on Saturday, the Malta Developers Association (MDA) appealed for a “reasonable policy” on batching plants.

Having a policy would enable owners of existing plants that are not in breach of such a policy to regularise and sanction their activity after paying a fine, the MDA said.

The source said the policy would set to establish criteria ensuring the batching plant operations are not detrimental to the environment.

Other factors such as the footprint of the plant, and whether it was located on agricultural land or in a quarry would also be considered.

Replying to questions about an illegal Gozo batching plant exposed by Times of Malta, Transport Minister Ian Borg on Saturday said the PA had already made it clear action was being taken.

Dr Borg acknowledged that a study had been carried out on batching plants around the country.

It looks like we have a problem with many of the batching plants, including that one [in Gozo]- Ian Borg

“It looks like we have a problem with many of the batching plants, including that one [in Gozo].”

The minister said the Planning Authority would be exploring which batching plants could be eligible for regularisation.

Illegal ones that could not be regularised should be shut down, Dr Borg said.

Asked what criteria would be used for such a regularisation exercise, Dr Borg said that was for the authority to formulate.

“I told the authority I will not be defending any illegalities,” Dr Borg said.

When it was pointed out that the Gozo plant was still operating illegally, Dr Borg distanced himself from the PA’s work, saying it was the authority’s job to police such things.

Times of Malta reported yesterday that the Gozo Ministry had actually used the services of the illegal concrete batching plant to repair a road last month.

Dr Borg said he had instructed the PA to ensure that the operations of all batching plants were supervised.