Few realise that double glazing systems save a family between 12 and 25 per cent of energy consumption, particularly during winter, as it retains heat that is generated indoors. In summer, one can save almost the same percentage if the glass is covered by a canopy. This week, I announced the launching of another scheme geared towards encouraging the installation of double glazing and roof insulation in homes. By the end of 2012, such installations will be eligible to assistance of up to 15.25 per cent of the total amount spent, to a maximum of €1,000.

... in one year we cut the volume of waste deposited at landfills by 10 per cent- George Pullicino

Since 2006, over 600 families have received assistance for the installation of double glazing or roof insulation. In the same period, over 12,000 families received assistance for the investment in photovoltaic panel systems or solar water heaters. Families invested €33 million in photovoltaic panels alone, with assistance that amounted to more than €16 million. This is aside from the assistance we provided for energy-saving bulbs, which cost the government another €4 million.

I announced this scheme while visiting Mario Tonna’s glass factory in Mrieħel, where, together with journalists, I could see the making of double glazed glass. I was impressed by the massive investment made by the Tonna family over the past years in machinery that produces tempered and laminated glass as well as double glazing. I greatly enjoyed listening to his passionate views and vision, both for his business as well as our country, and for the generation of green jobs – April 7.

Unique agriculture

Yesterday, I hosted the German Minister for Agriculture, Ilse Aigner. Such opportunities are important because they allow us to showcase our particular realities, which are very often difficult for foreigners to understand, especially when they come from a country so much larger than ours.

Ms Aigner listened attentively to me and other ministry officials explain at length the needs and particularities of our agriculture. The size of fields, the shortage of land, the climate and the lack of resources such as water, are all factors that make Maltese agriculture unique. During the meeting, the stark difference between Germany and Malta was made clear. In Germany, 200 tumoli of land is considered a small farm. In Malta, a small farm means eight tumoli of land.

I reaffirmed Malta’s position on the reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, where our specific realities need to be addressed rather than reform on the basis of a one-size-fits-all policy.

I also accompanied Ms Aigner on a visit to a small farm in Żebbiegħ, where she could observe the issues that we had described.

It was a positive meeting resulting in another European politician not only listening to us but also being sensitive to our unique circumstances. She also understood the intrinsic link between farming and the environment in Malta – April 5.

Embellishment works in Paceville

In the coming days, the paving project in the commercial and touristic heart of Paceville will be completed. Research by the Malta Tourism Authority has shown that about 650,000 tourists visit St Julians and about 300,000 tourists visit Paceville every year.

The hotels that were built and the private investment to attract tourists as well as Maltese to this area must also be complemented by government investment to embellish this entertainment mecca. Unfortunately, the upgrading that took place some eight years ago was irreparably damaged through the abusive use of vehicles or trucks.

This project, which began in mid-January this year, saw the paving of porfido tiles over 2,300 square metres of land, through the investment of over €250,000. This work included the removal of pavements from three streets and modern bollards installed, thus separating the pedestrianised zones from those that are open to traffic. Modern bollards were also installed along the new paving in St George’s Road, Wilġa Street and part of Dragonara Road in Paceville.

This work was made possible with the cooperation of the local council, the Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises – GRTU, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants’ Association and all operators in the area.

The activity in this area means that a large amount of waste is generated. A new cleansing system will also be introduced to clean pedestrian areas in Valletta and Sliema, among others.

These upgrading works complement the embellishment works that took place in Paceville Square in 2008.

The government has also delivered a number of other projects in this area, such as the embellishment of the fisherman’s wharf in St Julians, the restoration of the chapel of the Immaculate Conception and the embellishment of the promenade in St George’s Bay.

We have also applied for a permit with the Malta Environment and Planning Authority to begin works on a total upgrading of Spinola in St Julians – April 4.

Positive statistics about waste

The latest Eurostat statistics regarding waste management in Malta are positive and encouraging. The generation of waste per capita has been reduced to 591 kilos. In 2008, we generated 700 kilos per capita.

We still produce more than the EU average, yet, the rate is being steadily reduced. Moreover, in one year we cut the volume of waste deposited at landfills by 10 per cent.

The information campaigns we embarked upon and the facilities we provided are clearly contributing to a mentality change within our community. It is clear, for example, that the amount of waste dumped in the countryside has reduced considerably, although some continue to act irresponsibly despite the five civic amenity sites that provide their services free of charge on a daily basis. Over the past five years, Wastserv has collected over 63,000 tonnes of waste from these sites.

More than half of such materials are deposited at the Mrieħel site, where we hosted an open day last week. In 2011, the number of cars that entered this site amounted to almost 67,000. This is an increase of 280 per cent, almost triple, when compared to 2007, which was the first year of operation.

Only a quarter of the materials deposited in such centres ends up in landfills as the other three quarters are recycled.

Persuading others to follow this path was not easy. When we submitted applications with Mepa for the development of such centres, many objected, especially those local councils administered by the Labour Party.

Today, many of those who had objected have joined us in advocating the separation of waste and the opening of more civic amenity sites.

They have understood that the separation of waste also generates employment.

We have a long way to go to reach the practices and goals within the rest of the EU but we are well on our way. We are examining other measures that may be adopted as well as working towards the opening of further facilities to treat the waste that each and every one of us generates every day – March 30.


The author is Minister for Resources and Rural Affairs.