The Kumanovo landfill “Krasta” is one of the locations that should be rehabilitated, and turned into a waste transfer station, with a special new biological waste composting plant. Photo: Meta.mk
From 2020 to date, the cleaning of the unstandardized municipal landfills and solid waste illegal dumps in the Eastern and Northeastern planning region of North Macedonia has been stalled. There were many reasons for the postponements – from choosing the companies to the supervision of the clean-up process, then the completion of the urban planning documentation by the municipalities, all through the objections to the construction of the modern regional landfill for these two regions in Sveti Nikole municipality. The accomplishment of this promise specified in the Work Programme of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia (RNM) for the period 2020-2024 has been slow and the conclusion is that its implementation is ongoing.
Page 43 of the Work Programme of the Government for the period 2020—2024 states that the central government will implement activities for establishing an integrated and financially sustainable system for regional solid waste management in the Eastern and Northeastern regions, accompanied by promised activities to close down the dumps in the respective municipalities and regions.
More precisely, “dumps” refers to the non-standard landfills in 18 municipalities that do not have an A-integrated environmental permit from the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, thereby posing a threat to both the environment and the people. Consequently, there is continuous water pollution from the landfill leakages, air pollution due to the burning of the dumps, and pollution of arable land plots due to their location, which in most cases is next to fertile agricultural land.
Based on this government promise from the Work Programme, at the beginning of January 2021, the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning announced that the clean up of the non-standard municipal landfills and illegal solid waste dumps in the Eastern and Northeastern planning regions will begin that same year.
The initial deadline to start the cleanup – spring of 2021 – was postponed, and the Government at the 88th session on 19 July 2021, based on the information on the status of implementation of the preparatory activities related to the cleanup of the irregular landfills and solid waste dumps in the Eastern and Northeastern regions, made a decision to close the illegal landfills and solid waste dumps in 18 municipalities in the Eastern and Northeastern regions, with additional more than thirty illegal garbage dumps.
That same year, the clean-up of the landfills and solid waste dumps was postponed until the autumn, due to the need to implement preparatory activities, as reported by the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning on 29th August 2021. The deadline was not fulfilled and in January 2022, a new deadline for the clean-up of the contaminated areas in both regions was adopted – the spring of 2022.
The Ministry in January 2022 explained that the project documentation was approved by the Central Financing and Contracting Department of the Ministry of Finance which was, apparently, an administrative procedure that had to be completed in autumn 2022, before initiating field activities.
However, the cleanup of landfills and solid waste dumps in the Eastern and Northeastern planning regions did not start even during 2022. At th end of November 2022, at the last press briefing, the Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, Naser Nuredini, informed that the implementation of the project for cleaning up illegal dumps in the Eastern region is in progress, and soon to be followed by cleaning up of illegal dumps in the Northeastern region.
Otherwise, the project is worth approximately €10 million. In the first phase, the waste scattered in about 30 dumping sites in the two regions should be cleaned up. More importantly, the non-standard landfills used by 18 municipalities in this part of the country are planned to be closed down. The entire project should be implemented in two phases, covering all 104 dumping sites and 18 non-standard landfills in the Eastern and Northeastern planning regions.
In addition to the cleanup procedure, the funds secured should cover the complete closing down of landfills. In other words, it will not be possible to dump new waste to these locations in the future. The landfills also need to be rehabilitated, which requires a one-year implementation period. This means fencing off the site, cleaning storm-water channels, monitoring the quality of groundwater, including monitoring the stability of the cover that will be placed on top of the previous landfills. The public communal enterprise will be in charge of the visual inspection and maintenance of the locations.
The project was initiated by the government in the two planning regions. It was delayed by more than two years, but its implementation has already begun with the selection of companies that will work on closing down the non-standard landfills and develop the entire urban planning documentation for each municipality that should precede the cleaning. Therefore, we can conclude that so far, the entire procedure has been very slow and this project is currently in progress, but has not been completed to date.
Website of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia (19.07.2021): From the 88th session of the Government: Draft Law on Narcotic Drugs was approved; Closing down illegal landfills in the Eastern and North-Eastern regions began; The financial support for investments is expanded, checked 03.01.2023
Meta.mk (15.1.2021): The clean up of all inappropriate landfills and solid waste dumps in the Eastern and Northeastern regions begins this year, checked 03.01.2023
Meta.mk (29.8.2021): The clean up of scattered waste in the Eastern and North-Eastern regions will begin in September, checked 03.01.2023
Meta.mk (20.1.2022): Finally, this spring, the start of the cleanup of landfills in the Eastern and Northeastern regions is announced, checked 03.01.2023
Meta.mk (29.11.2022): By the end of the year, a tender for the regional landfill in Sveti Nikole, and construction will start next year, checked 03.01.2023