11 June 2003

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Malta still on target to meet EU environmental obligations

The Ministry for Resources and the Infrastructure yesterday replied to press reports that cited EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom saying she expected accession countries to put a lot of investment into setting up waste water treatment plants, in order to improve bathing water quality, and that Malta will be facing "big problems" in complying with the EU’s bathing water quality regulations.
During negotiations with the EU Commission on the Environment Chapter, the Ministry explains in a statement released yesterday, that Malta agreed to be fully compliant with the urban waste water treatment directive by March 2007.
The Ministry elaborates, "Malta is on target to meet this commitment. By the end of March 2007, all waste water will be treated before it is discharged into the marine environment and thus Malta will comply with the Bathing Water Quality Directive.
"In line with the Sewerage Master Plan, the Ministry for Resources and Infrastructure is committed to the construction of new sewage treatment plants in Gozo and in the North of Malta, by December, 2005; and another new sewage treatment plant in the South of the Island by March 2007. With regards to the plants in Gozo and in the North, the financing has already been identified. Discussions are currently underway with financial institutions to identify the financing for the South area treatment plant."
Meanwhile, the Gozo plant, estimated to cost in the region of EUR9 million, will be co-financed by the EU and national funds. The tender document is already in draft form and has been submitted to the Department of Contracts for vetting before it is referred to the EU Commission for approval and eventual publication. By December, 2005, the new plant will come on line and raw sewage discharges through the outfall at Ras il-Hobz will be discontinued.
The ministry adds, "The North Sewage treatment plant and related infrastructure, which is estimated to cost EUR12.3 million, is undergoing EIA consultation. This project will be financed under the 5th Italian Financial Protocol. An invitation for the submission of an expression of interest has been issued in accordance with the procedures laid down in the Protocol. This plant will be operational by the end of 2005 and the raw sewage discharges at ic-Cumnija to the north of the island, will eventually be eliminated.
"Discussions are planned with financial institutions regarding the financing of the South sewage treatment plant, which is estimated to cost 70 million Euros. Recently talks were held between senior officials from the Works Division of the Ministry for Resources and Infrastructure and a delegation of the European Investment Bank, about the possibility of loan financing for this project, which is the major component of the Sewerage Master Plan."
The Ministry explains that the Environmental Impact Assessment for the project is expected to be commissioned within the coming weeks following consultations with the Malta Environment and Planning Authority.
The ministry adds, "These implementation plans are in line with Malta’s commitments with the EU on the quality of bathing water…Malta is still on target to meet these obligations."

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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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