Fabian Demicoli

Are Quarries part of the Maltese economy or?

 GRTU meets Minister deMarco to discuss issues – GRTU has earlier this week met Minister Mario de Marco, MEPA Chairman Austin Walker and Chief Executive Officer Ian Stafrace  to discuss pending issues in the quarrying sector.
Mr Vincent Farrugia, GRTU Director General, opened the meeting by thanking the Minister and all other officials present for their time and outlined that the quarrying sector represented by GRTU is extremely worried over legislation which has curtailed their operation into one of the strictest ever operations.

Mr Farrugia pointed out that Malta would not be where it is today if it had not been for this sector, and although the resource has not been managed well, we are still in time to safeguard this precious material, be it aggregate or limestone emanating from these quarries.

He also outlined that many years back the quarries were isolated but through the evolution of time there are now many residences that are effected by these quarries. He continued to state that twenty years ago a Minerals Board existed within MEPA which is now defunct. Although this Board did not succeed to solve many issues, at least there were people who were hands-on on the issues that discussed and learned. This sector was however recently also further plagued by stricter than ever explosives regulations, noise pollution and the most recent dust pollution draft paper.

These issues are making life impossible for many owners and many are still in the business simply because they consider it a hobby. To add insult to injury the quarry owners are deemed to pay in all the fiscal regime when they have as yet not recuperated their monies as the credit being taken up for payment exceeds well over a year, if not two.  He continued to state that this negative attitude towards quarry owners exists across the board.

Minister de Marco reiterated that the quarrying sector was formally included in the National Environmental Plan and accordingly he can confirm that there are no hidden agendas vis a vis this sector. He continued to stress that it would be best if a stock of the situation is taken before we get to a phase where we want to use the resource and we cannot find it. The cost of the resource should also be included in the cost structure so as to continue to work towards sustain able operation.

The Minister recommended that GRTU sends a list of quarry owners who are now facing any problems in relation to planning permit, extension of quarries, vibration levels during explosions, so that a three day marathon meeting is set up for this sector individually in order for MEPA to have the whole holistic picture.

Additionally, there are a few issues are common for every operator. These include noise pollution and dust monitoring, which legislation is currently open for public consultation. Such issues will be discussed by GRTU on behalf of the members with their presence.

For this meeting GRTU officials were accompanied by three representatives from the Quarries sector Committee.

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