Planning Authority approves outline application for Magħtab incinerator

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 January, 2022 at 3:20 pm by Andre Camilleri

The Planning Authority Board has approved an outline Planning Application for an incinerator in Maghtab.

An outline development permission, which is what WasteServ is applying for, is an approval in principle of the full development subject to a number of reserved matters which would need to be included in a full development permit application, which would have to be filed by the applicant anyway.

The flagship waste management project aims to handle and incinerate circa 350 to 400 tonnes per day, equivalent to 120,000 tonnes annually, of Refuse Derived Fuels and combustible rejects which would then have an output of around 20 to 25 MWe. Some of this electricity will be used internally in the plant, while the majority will be exported to the national grid. 

The project intends to reduce Malta’s reliance on landfilling and ultimately aims to turn waste into a potential resource.

The site in question occupies an area of circa 34,000 square metres and is outside the development zone (ODZ).  It is largely on the site of the current Magħtab landfill, but also includes taking up elements of agricultural land. The building itself will be 39 metres high, and have a flue rising 80 metres. The project’s chimney stack was deemed an unavoidable necessity even if it is the most visible element of the plant.

Naxxar mayor Anne Marie Muscat Fenech Adami voted against the project due to fears that it will spew harmful emissions over fears that it will spew harmful emissions. The other board member to vote against was NGO representative Annick Bonello.

A number of objections had been filed against the project, particularly over concerns for the health and wellbeing of people who live in the area, about potentially hazardous emissions which may come out of the plant, and about the possible impact of the incinerators cooling system – which would discharge warm water into the sea – on the marine environment.

The Environment and Resources Authority, following an Environmental Impact Assessment, had concluded that “there is no objection to the proposal subject to the implementation of stringent mitigation measures and pre-emptive safeguards throughout both construction and operation phases of the proposed development.”

The EIA Report concluded that “a minor adverse residual impact following mitigation measures is envisaged on air quality during construction due to dust emissions; and a negligible residual impact is envisaged due to atmospheric emission during operation as long as effective emission suppression equipment is in place.”

The ERA said that even though it was clear that certain impact such as habitat loss, removal of trees, and demolition of rural structures would not be averted, the project is still better than increased landfilling and therefore has a “net environmental benefit.”

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