Construction waste from a public project under the Gozo Ministry has been dumped in an unlicensed quarry.
Despite having no permit to take the waste, the quarry operators – who are already in trouble over other illegalities – have nearly doubled the fee they charge contractors. Emulating their Maltese counterparts, they have raised the fee from €8 per tonne of debris to €15.
The Environment and Resources Authority has so far taken no action to stop the quarry, which is on land leased from the government, from receiving the inert waste.
A number of Gozitan developers have complained to Times of Malta that the only three quarries in Gozo that were licensed to receive construction waste are not operational.
This leaves the unlicensed quarry as the only place where the industry can get rid of demolition and excavation waste. Known as Tal-Misraħ, it lies in the countryside outside San Lawrenz.
They also complained that, while being left with no option but to use the illegal operation, the quarry’s operators, Joseph and Randu Zammit, had now decided to drastically raise their fees.
We are operating in an impossible situation
“We are operating in an impossible situation,” one developer said.
“Though we know that the Tal-Misraħ quarry is not permitted to receive construction waste, we have nowhere else to go.”
“What is even more ridiculous is that even waste from projects done by the Gozo Ministry is being dumped there illegally,” he added.
Truckloads of material from a road construction project in Nadur have been disposed of at the San Lawrenz quarry.
The ERA website lists all the quarries permitted to receive construction waste. Tal-Misraħ is not one of them and neither can it excavate new stone. Yet, it has been doing both.Asked repeatedly to clarify the situation and state why it had not yet acted against these glaring illegalities, an ERA spokeswoman said: “The quarry you refer to (SG07) is not permitted by ERA. In fact, ERA has already investigated this case and action is set to be taken imminently.”
The quarry in question has been in the news before. Last year, Times of Malta reported that it had been issued with an enforcement order by the Planning Authority over its excavation activity in 1998.
Still, the operation carries on and no direct action appears to have ever been taken to stop it.
A few years ago, the operators applied to sanction the quarry but the application was left dormant. They have since decided to restart the sanctioning process.
A PA spokesman confirmed that enforcement action against the operators had been left pending for 20 years.
He said: “Matters were delayed due to legal proceedings, which remained pending until October 2012.”
However, Times of Malta pointed out that seven years had passed since the legal proceedings had been closed through a court decision against an appeal by the operators.
The PA replied that “further enforcement is now on hold until the outcome of the planning application” to sanction the illegalities.
Meanwhile, the PA has not reported any substantial progress on the sanctioning application.
“This application has been passed to a case officer to assess the development proposal in terms of the strategic plan for environment and development and other established policies,” according to an undated status on the PA website.