Facilities in Malta fall under the scope of a number of legislations depending on the nature of the installation and operations conducted.
Facilities producing emissions such as installations which have recently started operating medium combustion plants and facilities using organic solvents; are regulated by S.L. 549.122 Limitation of Emissions of Certain Pollutants into the air from Medium Combustion Plants Regulations and S.L. 549.79 Industrial Emissions (Limitation of Emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds) Regulations, respectively. In regards to VOC emissions produced specifically from service stations dispensing petrol, these are required to comply with S.L. 549.52 Control of Volatile Organic Compound-VOC Emissions (Storage and Distribution of Petrol from Terminals to Service Stations) Regulations.
Facilities that are covered by the above-mentioned regulations are therefore required to obtain authorization in the form of General Binding Rules, an Environmental Permit or an IPPC Permit, depending on the scale of the operations. These permits define a standard set of environmental conditions that regulate any potential environmental impact and are used as a means of reference during site inspections.
The inspections conducted within facilities are primarily either planned routine inspections or related to a complaint received by the Authority.
Routine inspections take place throughout the year with the number of inspections per facility being based on risk; taking into account the operations of the facility, the scale of said operations and the past compliance levels of the facility in question.
When conducting a routine inspection, the officers together with the operator or TCP (Technically Competent Person), go through all the processes of the facility from beginning to end in order to observe whether the conditions stipulated in the Environmental Permit or IPPC are being adhered to throughout. In addition, the inspection serves as a means to confirm whether any pending prior issues have been addressed and if so, proof of such is collected. The inspection is then followed by a detailed inspection report which lists any issues that were noted, as well as actions to be undertaken by the operator. Deadlines for the completion of these actions are also imposed in the report and a follow ups are conducted to ensure that any potential issues were rectified.
When complaints are received by the Authority, officers commence investigations in order to verify the claims made by the complainant. If any illegalities, including operations without a permit required by law or in the form of breaches of permit are noted, the Authority may then choose to take further enforcement action accordingly. There are a range of actions which ERA may take. These include but are not limited to administrative fines, Out of Court Settlements, Stop Orders or Stop and Compliance order with associated daily fines based on S.L.549.72 – Daily Penalty Regulations, or by taking court action. These enforcement actions may also be applied in cases when issues persist following routine inspections, depending on the case at hand.