Client: SmartCity Malta
Start / Finish Dates: June 2007 – June 2008
The project involved the redevelopment of the former Ricasoli Industrial Estate as an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Media Park (project known as SmartCity Malta). The project comprised: 163,000 m2 of Grade A office space (51% of the site’s built up area); retail outlets, food and beverage outlets and leisure establishments; hotels and residential accommodation; and 118,000 m2 of open space and landscaping throughout the site.
The main site covered an area of 33.6 hectares comprising the former industrial estate, together with agricultural and disturbed land. A smaller site (4.1 hectares), located some 75m south of the main site, comprised a former military installation and agricultural and disturbed land.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was undertaken in collaboration with MWH and addressed potential impacts in relation to: geo-environment, marine environment, ecology, agriculture, cultural heritage, air quality, landscape and visual amenity, and noise and vibration.
The Social Impact Assessment (SIA) addressed the potential impact in the context of those that would be living / working within the site and those living / working in the surrounding neighbourhood, as well as the impacts on a national scale (this particular element of the assessment was carried out by Colin Buchanan). Colin Buchanan also authored the Economic Impact Assessment.
The EIA public hearing included an exhibition and two focus group meetings (with the Local Councils of Xghajra, Kalkara and Zabbar, and with local environmental and cultural heritage NGOs, respectively).
A Land Contamination Study was carried out to identify the extent of ground contamination within the former industrial estate. The Study included a walkover survey of the site, through which a number of issues were identified and the site mapped, including the presence of asbestos-containing material, underground and aboveground storage tanks, and heavy ground staining caused by bad housekeeping at open-air storage areas. Boreholes were drilled in these locations, and in other areas where it was considered previous site activities could have caused potential contamination, in order to assess the sub-soil impact. Groundwater samples were also taken to test for hydrocarbon and heavy metal contamination. The Land Contamination Study resulted in recommendations on how to deal with the contaminated material during the construction phase.
Development permission was granted for the project in October 2008.
Keywords: Environmental Impact Assessment, Social Impact Assessment, Land Contamination Study, SmartCity Malta