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MALTATODAY 17 July 2022

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12 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 17 JULY 2022 NEWS Four months of parental leave, two months of which will be paid. 10 days of paternity leave fully paid. NEW RIGHTS FOR OUR FAMILIES 5 days carers' leave. Right to more flexible working arrangements. ta' aħjar JAMES DEBONO MALTA currently lacks a plan- ning policy to regulate the de- velopment of new quarries, and a blanket ban on new quarries from a 2003 'Mineral Subject Plan' is now no longer applica- ble. The plan had included a pre- sumption "against granting new hard-stone and soft-stone quar- ries at least until the first review of the plan" – which would have overruled the development of a proposed quarry in Bengħajsa as proposed recently. Replying to a parliamenta- ry question by Nationalist MP Stanley Zammit whether the proposed quarry in Bengħaj- sa was in breach of the Mineral Subject Plan, Planning Minister Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi replied that the 2002 plan has been "abolished" and superseded by generic provisions in the Strate- gic Planning and Environment Plan (SPED) approved in 2015. The minister said this means the Planning Authority can "consid- er the development of quarries as long as these do not result in unacceptable harm to the envi- ronment." In reality, the SPED does not specifically refer to the develop- ment of new quarries but states that the country should consid- er "further mineral extraction preferably through extensions of existing quarries provided that there is no unacceptable adverse impact on protected areas and species." The minister also revealed that the quarry being proposed at Bengħajsa has the potential of producing 225,000 cubic metres of hard-stone aggregate. The mineral subject plan, pre- pared by Entec UK, had includ- ed a total of 46 policies aimed at improving the current situation, recommending that no new quarries should be allowed by the Planning Authority. It also recommended the importation of building aggregates, even if it deemed freight handling charges in Malta were too high. A study of the reserves and production of soft and hard- stone carried out in connection with the Mineral Subject Plan, Ban on new quarries dropped in 2015, minister confirms Malta now has no specific policy regulating quarry developments except for a generic policy in the SPED which states that further mineral extraction, "preferably" through extensions of existing quarries, can be considered if this does not damage protected areas The proposed Benghajsa quarry (in orange) is lcoated right beneath a solar farm

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