Thursday 21 October 2021

Online public consultation on developing disused quarries into solar farms on 16 December

Stakeholders and the public are invited to participate in a live online public consultation on the recently-submitted Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) about the development of disused quarries, and other sites, into solar farms. This consultation will take place on Wednesday 16 December 2020, starting at 14:30hrs. The conversion of disused quarries into solar farms will enable numerous beneficial impacts in the areas of air quality, energy and climate change, and human health.

The recent submission of the Planning Authority-commissioned SEA by AIS Environment has been another important step towards the implementation of the Solar Farm Policy for the Maltese Islands. Fulfilling the Policy’s paragraph 5.4—which requires the completion of a plan-level environmental assessment for all quarries within, partly within or adjacent to Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs)— the SEA studied the effect of the development measures on six environmental themes: air quality, biodiversity, landscape, energy and climate change, public access, and human health. It is to note that SACs are designated for important habitats while SPAs are designated for birds.

As part of the assessment, a total of 27 quarries in 12 geographically-separated clusters, accounting for 35 per cent of disused quarries in Malta eligible for solar panel farm development, were examined including nearby SACs and SPAs, which form part of the Natura 2000 Network of EU designated sites. No adverse impacts were found to be of major significance by this SEA. Nevertheless, the report provides recommendations for consideration to further reduce adverse impacts at project level.

Numerous beneficial impacts are expected to arise from the conversion of these quarries into solar farms, namely due to the reduction in electrical demand on the Delimara Power Station. The reduced power station load would beneficially impact air quality, energy & climate change and human health. Comparatively, excluding these sites from the Policy would reduce Malta’s capacity for renewable energy production.

The public and stakeholders can register for the online public consultation by sending an email to seminars@ais.com.mt by not later than 12:00 noon on Tuesday 15 December 2020. 

Participation in this discussion is highly recommended as Malta actively moves towards its commitment to generating 10 per cent of its energy renewable sources.

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