Illegal dumping in Għar Lapsi quarry continues, no enforcement in sight

No action has been taken to stop the illegal dumping in an Għar Lapsi quarry adjacent to a Special Area of Conservation.

In January, The Shift News reported that construction magnate Charles Polidano applied to continue quarry operations in Għar Lapsi despite failing to apply for a permit since 2007.

The quarry is located in a very sensitive location next to the the coastal cliffs at Ix-Xaqqa and borders the Irdumijiet ta’ Malta Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Questioning the government’s poor track record in the general enforcement of its own policies and laws, Partit Demokratiku (PD) said construction waste is being dumped outside the remit of permits to fill in the disused Għar Lapsi quarry.

PD said the owners of the Għar Lapsi quarry are not only dumping within its confines but are also using adjacent land in the countryside as dumping ground.

“The damage to flora, in particular the protected species of thyme, is punishable by law – but in the case of illegal dumping, no justice is called for or applied. This is selective lack of enforcement. Partit Demokratiku calls for stronger enforcement in Malta across all sectors, and the application of all laws and policies governing Malta’s environment and natural heritage, as all too often most are simply ignored.”

The Għar Lapsi quarry is the largest hard stone quarry in Malta, producing sand and gravel which is mostly used for concrete mixing.

Various policies outlined in Planning Authority’s North West local plan recommend the restoration, landscaping and the reuse of these sites leading to their rehabilitation for recreational purposes.

In 2001 the Siġġiewi local council had presented a report to the Ombudsman which concluded that the Għar Lapsi quarry should not have been permitted in the first place and identified a number of illegalities on this site.

In December 2014 the Times of Malta revealed that waste from the dismantling of the Marsa power station was illegally dumped in the quarry.

“If the Planning Authority lacks the human resource to cover the permits it grants than it is high time that its administration takes stock of this situation,” PD said, adding that if the authority is selectively closing an eye than this is not only shameful but calls for restructuring and a change in attitude.

While empathising with the use of quarries as landfills, Partit Demokratiku said illegal dumping in Għar Lapsi and other quarries “demonstrates the government’s lack of unconditional commitment to put in practice its own policies and the general weakness of the rule of law under this administration.”

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