FAQs

What is the Aarhus Convention?

The full name of the Aarhus Convention is the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters. The Convention was adopted on 25th June 1998 in the Danish city of Aarhus, and hence it is referred to as ‘the Aarhus Convention’. It entered into force on 30 October 2001.

The Aarhus Convention establishes a number of rights of the public (individuals and NGOs) with regard to the environment. The Convention sets out three fundamental rights: access to information, access to public participation and access to justice, as key pillars of good environmental governance.

Does it apply to Malta?

Malta ratified the Aarhus Convention on 23 April 2002, and therefore is obliged to adhere to its provisions. Countries that ratify the Convention are known as “Parties” – all Parties must take the necessary steps, including enacting legislation, in order to implement the Convention at the national level.  The European Union is also a Party to the Convention and therefore any Regulations, Directives or Decisions enacted by the EU that relate to the Convention, also apply to Malta.

What rights does it give me as a citizen?

The Convention recognises that every person has the right to live in an environment adequate to his or her health and well-being, and recognises the duty, both individually and in association with others, to protect and improve the environment for the benefit of present and future generations.

1. The right to request and receive information relating to the environment;
2. The right to participate in decisions that will affect the environment;
3. The right to have access to a review procedure to appeal against decisions  that are contrary to law relating to the environment.

What is access to information?

The right to access to information is outlined under articles 4 and 5 of the Convention. This includes the right for any person to make a request a public authority for information that relates to the environment without having to state reasons as to why they are requesting it. The public authority is obliged to respond within 30 days of receiving the request, however there are certain justifiable reasons as to why certain information cannot be disclosed to the applicant as highlighted in the law.

In addition, public authorities are obliged to actively disseminate certain environmental information to the public, such as:

1. texts of international treaties, national legislation, policies, plans and programmes relating to the environment;
2. progress reports on the implementation of the such policies;
3. reports on the state of the environment;
4. data or summaries of data derived from the monitoring of activities affecting, or likely to affect, the environment;
5. environmental impact studies and risk assessments.

More information on this right to information can be found from the following links:

What is public participation?

Through articles 6-8, the Aarhus Convention gives the public the right to participate in numerous decision-making processes relating to the environment: namely, the drafting of plans, programmes, policies and legislation, as well as in the drafting of certain environmental assessments. This allows citizens to express their views on the measure itself, or to suggest how it can be amended to better reach its aims.

As per the Environment Protection Act (Chapter 549), any Regulations issued thereunder must be subject to public consultation before finalisation. The minimum period of consultation is 4 weeks. There are few exceptions which would exclude this procedure, such as, if the regulations must be issued as a matter of urgency, or if public consultation has already been carried out at a previous stage. In such cases the public is still given opportunity to send formal comments up to a month after publication.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations (S.L. 549.46) (EIA Regulations) also call for public participation, allowing the public to make submissions on the proposal made and on the impact of the proposed development.

Under the Industrial Emissions (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) Regulations (S.L. 549.77) (IPPC Regulations) public participation is carried out with regards to the permitting of installations for a period of a 30 day.

Other relevant legislation in this respect include the Strategic Environmental Assessment Regulations (S.L. 549.61) and the Plans and Programmes (Public Participation) Regulations (S.L. 549.41), which tackle plans that may have negative impacts on the environment, as well as the drawing up of specific plans and programmes that relate to waste, water and air. The competent authority under these regulations must ensure that the public is given early and effective opportunities to participate in the preparation, modification or review of the specified plans or programmes.

In general, the comments submitted by the public must be taken into consideration by the competent authority in reaching its final conclusion, or drawing up the final draft.

The Development Planning Act (Cap. 552) provides for public participation in decision-making for projects, and for regulations issued thereunder. Furthermore, the Development Planning (Procedure for Applications and their Determination) Regulations (S.L. 552.13) provide more detailed provisions regarding public participation relating to development. These fall within the remit of the Planning Authority.

More information is available here.

What is access to justice?

Article 9 of the Aarhus Convention provides for the right to access to justice in environmental matters – it broadly tackles the questions of who may bring an action, and what the subject-matter of the action may be. Article 9 is divided into 5 sub-articles. 9(1) relates to remedies in cases where the applicant’s rights relating to access to environmental information have been breached.

The second subparagraph to article 9 provides the public a right to challenge the substantive and procedural legality of any decision, act or omission subject to public participation under the Convention. In such cases, the interest of an NGO shall be deemed sufficient for the purposes of bringing an action – (i.e. it need not prove its personal or legal interest in the case to gain standing in front of a court or tribunal).

The third subparagraph provides for a broad right to the public meeting any criteria laid down in national law, to have access to administrative or judicial procedures to challenge acts and omissions by private persons and public authorities which contravene provisions of national law relating to the environment.

The final subparagraphs list a number of criteria that the review mechanisms established according to the aforementioned paragraphs must satisfy, such as, independence and impartiality, expeditiousness, fairness, and not prohibitively expensive.

For more information on how this Article is applied in Malta, see:

How does the Aarhus Convention impact me?

The participatory rights and procedures outlined in the Aarhus Convention are specifically targeted towards citizens and NGOs, as the scope is that such involvement increases accountability and transparency of environmental-related decisions by public authorities. The Convention also strives to increase public awareness of national environmental issues, and provides a platform where citizens may lawfully express their concerns – which is an important factor in a democratic society.

What can I do to get involved?

Citizens are encouraged to take an active role, participate and keep up-to-date with national and regional environmental matters.

Citizens can request environmental information through ERA or through servizz.gov.mt.

Citizens can keep up-to-date and voice their opinions through organised public consultations on issues that affect the environment, which may be found from different portals depending on the entity involved:

• Environment and Resources Authority
• Planning Authority
• Malta-EU Steering and Action Committee
• Ministry For European Affairs and Equality

What is the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee?

The compliance mechanism of the Aarhus Convention is one of a non-confrontational, non-judicial and consultative nature; and it is exercised through the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (ACCC). The primary aim of the ACCC is monitoring and aiding proper implementation of the Convention’s principles.

The ACCC consists of nine members serving in their personal capacity, stressing their independence. Those eligible for election include persons of high moral character with a recognised competence in the field, and must be nationals of Parties or Signatories to the Convention. Candidates may be nominated by Parties, Signatories and NGOs.

The ACCC’s main functions include drawing up a report on compliance with or implementation of the Convention at the request of the Meeting of the Parties, assisting and monitoring Party implementation of and compliance with the reporting obligations under the Convention, considering any submission, referral or communication made to it and examining compliance issues and making recommendations.

The compliance mechanism may be triggered in four ways:

1. A Contracting Party may make a submission about compliance by another Party;
2. A Contracting Party may make a submission concerning its own compliance;
3. The Secretariat may make a referral to the Committee;
4. Members of the public may make communications concerning a Party’s compliance with the convention.

Any submission, referral or communication must be supported by corroborating information. With respect to communications received from the public, the ACCC will not consider them if they are anonymous, an abuse of rights, or manifestly unreasonable. After examining the case, the ACCC will issue its findings and recommendations, which are published online.  The findings are then examined during an international meeting held with all the Parties of the Convention, and they are voted upon. A Party who is found to be not in compliance with the Convention will often be issued a recommendation on how it can reach compliance, and then the case is re-examined and followed up by the ACCC. Therefore, the ACCC, true to its name, ultimately aids in achieving compliance with the Convention.

What is the EPRT or Environment Planning Review Tribunal?

Article 3 of the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal (EPRT) Act, Chapter 551 of the Laws of Malta provides that the role of the EPRT is to review ‘the decisions of the Planning Authority and the decisions of the Environment and Resources Authority’, further providing that the EPRT is to exercise any other jurisdiction and function as conferred by the Act and any other law.  Clearly, the role of the EPRT is to ‘review’ planning and environmental decisions in terms of law and fact within the parameters set out in the EPRT Act.

What National Legislation regulates air?

Ambient  Air Quality Regulations, (S.L. 549.59)   aims to develop a long-term, strategic and integrated policy to protect against significant negative effects of air pollution on human health and the environment.  These regulations transpose two European Directives related to ambient air quality.

Please visit this link for more information.

Why do we need an Air Quality Plan?

ERA has highlighted concerns in the Air Quality (AQ) Plan and is striving to ensure the implementation of the AQ plan with the co-operation of the public and private sectors involved.

The proposed Air Quality Plan for the Maltese Islands will outline policy measures to address man-made pollution sources, namely in the sectors of transport, power generation, construction and small industry.

I need information on the quality of air in my locality, what do I do?

Air monitoring data is available here.

How is ambient Air Quality monitored?

ERA is responsible for the monitoring of air pollution levels and for coordinating policy measures.  ERA operates two different air monitoring methods: a real time fixed station network and a passive diffusion tube network which is spread over 98 sites.  For information on the latter send an email to contact.air@era.org.mt

Is there a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ozone?

Stratospheric ozone or good ozone is a layer surrounding the Earth’s atmosphere. It protects all life on earth from the damaging effects of the sun’s rays. Ground level ozone is formed by a photochemical reaction between atmospheric oxygen (O₂) and smog forming chemicals at the Earth’s surface. It is odourless and colourless, but can have profound effects on the human respiratory system.

What is particulate matter?

Particulate matter, or PM, is the term for particles found in the air: including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Particles can be suspended in the air for long periods of time. Some particles are large or dark enough to be seen as soot or smoke. Others are so small that individually they can only be detected with an electron microscope. Some particles are directly emitted into the air. They come from a variety of sources such as: cars, trucks, buses, factories, construction sites, tilled fields, unpaved roads, stone crushing, and burning of wood. Other particles may be formed in the air from the chemical change of gases. They are indirectly formed when gases from burning fuels react with sunlight and water vapour. These can result from fuel combustion in motor vehicles, at power plants, and in other industrial processes.

How does particulate matter adversely affect human health and the environment?

Many scientific studies have linked breathing PM to a series of significant health problems, including:

aggravated asthma increases in respiratory symptoms like coughing and difficult or painful breathing chronic bronchitis decreased lung function premature death. Particulate matter can also cause visual impairment and is a major cause of reduced visibility or  haze that is a common problem in many of our national parks and urban areas. PM can cause deposition of heavy metals and other environmental solids that contaminate soil and water across large distances. This long range deposition can, making lakes and streams acidic changing the nutrient balance in coastal waters and large river basins depleting the nutrients in soil damaging sensitive forests and farm crops affecting the diversity of ecosystems.

Where can I find data gathered by ERA Air Monitoring stations?

Data can be found here.

What are the general air quality levels in Malta?

One can access general information about the State of the Environment from our website.

Real time data for air quality is available here.

Does air pollution affect human health?

(Relationship between air pollution and diseases)

In relation to the relationship between air pollution and human health it is kindly suggested to refer your request to Department for Environmental Health at mhi@gov.mt

What are the general air quality levels in Malta?

One can access general information about the State of the Environment from our website.

Real time data for air quality is available here.

Dust emanating from quarries

Our monitoring equipment does not measure absolutely all the dust which is airborne. In fact our analysers measure only dust having aerodynamic diameters of 10 microns or less (1 micron is 1/1000th of a mm) or PM10. This means that even though the quarry does not apparently have an impact on the PM10 levels (since dust from quarries is mostly generally larger than PM10) it does not mean that we can rule out any impacts resulting from the suspension of dust having larger size ranges.

What does biodiversity mean?

Many definitions of “biodiversity” have been put forward; however, the one that is widely recognised is that considered in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). “Biodiversity” is here defined as “the variability among living organisms from all sources, including inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part of; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems”.

This implies that life as we know it, and the interactions with the surrounding environment, be it an urban area, soil, air, water, is considered as “biodiversity”.

The diversity of ecosystems, habitats, species and within populations and individuals of species is also considered as “biodiversity”.

Nature provides us with food, water, air, energy and raw materials, making life possible and driving our economy. However, natural ecosystems and their vital services are under pressure from pollution, climate change, urban sprawl, invasive species and intensive agriculture.

In line with international commitments, the EU biodiversity strategy aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU and help stop global biodiversity loss by 2020.

Read more:

Does Malta have a ‘healthy’ biodiversity?

The Environment Protection Act (Cap. 549) requires the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) to publish a State of the Environment Report (SoER) every four years. The latter is part of a commitment towards providing environmental information in a form that is easily accessible and user-friendly. Supplementing this obligation is the publishing of updates of key environmental indicators that are used in the SoERs.

The status of the habitats and species listed in the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), and found in Malta, are categorised as:

  • Favourable
  • Unfavourable-inadequate
  • Unfavourable-bad
  • Unknown

According to the 2014 Fifth National Report on the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity” (CBD 5NR), 43% of habitats and 40% of species that are found in Malta have a favourable conservation status, whilst 15% of species (mostly marine) and 0% of habitats have an unknown conservation status. Still, 57% of Maltese habitats and 45% of Maltese species have either an unfavourable-inadequate or unfavourable-bad conservation status.

Malta’s major environmental policy responses indicate that the country continues to take firm steps with respect to environmental protection. However, the sector remains dominated by a legislative approach, and in order for habitats and species to attain favourable conservation status, more stringent measures are required.

Read more:

What is meant by the term ‘ecology’?

‘Ecology’ is the scientific study of the interactions between organisms and their environment, whilst ‘ecologists’ are scientists that study these interactions. The distribution, abundance, relations of the different organisms and their interactions within the environment, together form an ecosystem.

Within an ecosystem, there are several food webs. A ‘food web’ is an overview of which species in an environment consume which species (plant, animal or both). A healthy ecosystem has a variety of organisms that play different roles in various food webs. If an ecosystem loses one of its members, it can become crippled. For instance, if owls in a forest die out, rodents might start to multiply at a very high rate, causing them to overrun the area and finish resources that other animals use too.

Read more:

What is the ‘EU Habitats Directive’?

The EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) ensures the conservation of a wide range of natural habitats and of rare, threatened or endemic wild fauna and flora.

Adopted in 1992, Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora aims to promote the maintenance of biodiversity, taking account of economic, social, cultural and regional requirements. Together with the EC Birds Directive (2009/147/EC), it establishes the EU wide Natura 2000 ecological network of protected areas. Both Directives form the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation policy.

Read more:

What does endemic mean?

An endemic species is a species which is only found in a given region or location and nowhere else in the world.

For instance, a plant endemic to Malta is only found in Malta, e.g. the National Plant: The Maltese rock-centaury, Palaeocyanus crassifolius.

What is the ‘EU Habitats Directive’?

The EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) ensures the conservation of a wide range of natural habitats and of rare, threatened or endemic wild fauna and flora.

Adopted in 1992, Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora aims to promote the maintenance of biodiversity, taking account of economic, social, cultural and regional requirements. Together with the EU Birds Directive (2009/147/EC), it establishes the EU wide Natura 2000 ecological network of protected areas. Both Directives form the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation policy.

Read more:

What is an ‘NBSAP’?

The main purpose of the National Biodiversity and Action Plan (NBSAP) is to serve as a national policy driver to integrate biodiversity concerns into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies, especially those that can have a bearing on Malta’s biological and natural resources.

The NBSAP is the principal instrument for implementing the CBD at national level. As required by the Convention, each signatory country (known as a Party) has to develop an NBSAP or equivalent instrument, in accordance with its particular conditions and capabilities.  This creates an obligation for Parties to carry out national biodiversity planning, and defining a course of action with specific targets and plans to fulfil the objectives of the Convention. In this context. NBSAPs are considered as one of the strongest implementation mechanisms in the CBD.

Furthermore, the Convention requires each Party to ensure that its respective NBSAP is mainstreamed into the planning and activities of all those sectors that can have a positive or negative impact on biodiversity. In terms of overall NBSAP submission to date (10 January 2019), a total of 190 out of 196 (97%) Parties have developed NBSAPs in line with Article 6 of the Convention.

Read more:

Which kind of initiatives promote the safeguarding of the Maltese environment?

Amongst various initiatives that were organised throughout the years, one can mention the following:

A Natura 2000 Information Campaign is ongoing. This entails extensive media presence, including:

  • television spots;
  • the launch of an information audio-visual product;
  • the Natura 2000 Malta website;
  • the Natura 2000 Malta Facebook page, and;
  • various stakeholder meetings.

A Natura 2000 rotating public exhibition was also carried out, for example, in Marsaskala, Marsaxlokk and Pembroke in Malta, and in iċ-Ċittadella in Gozo.

As part of the Natura 2000 Management Planning process, three public attitude surveys (PAS) were carried out. The public was overall more aware of what is Natura 2000 than it was before the onset of the project.

In relation to focussed awareness activities, ERA participates in Malta u Lil Hinn Minnha, an educational television programme, which is broadcasted on Sunday, with various repeats throughout the week. During this programme, ERA provides information snippets on Malta’s natural heritage. The programme has also been awarded numerous journalism prizes.

Over the years, some events were specifically organised in lieu of particular occasions, amongst which Arbor day, Natura 2000 day, Biodiversity day, Turtle day, and Earth Week. Events were also organised during local festivals in order to maximise stakeholder engagement. ERA also organises an average of seven biodiversity educational walks per year in protected areas. Additionally, and for the first time in 2018, a series of four Bat Nights were organised during the summer months. Information on specific issues related to habitats and species and Natura 2000 were, and are still, covered by communication campaigns, including the national campaigns on invasive alien species, national species, marine protected areas, waste management (and aspects linked with biodiversity), green infrastructure and related information under the LIFE Projects.

In March 2017, the Malta Flora & Fauna mobile application was launched; the application offers a digital catalogue of flora and fauna, which can be found in the Maltese Islands. Users can also submit geo-tagged photos to help ERA in identifying locations of native/endemic and alien species, to recognise the most common pests that could attack plants and trees, and to report any potential pest cases to the Plant Protection Directorate. Furthermore, the “Parks” section in the application provides a list of the Maltese protected areas.

In relation to management of visitors, visitor centres were set up in a number of areas. These target different geographical parts of the Maltese Islands. The Government of Malta handles a number of these, whilst other are administered by eNGOs or the private sector. A number of these visitor centres target directly Natura 2000 sites, whilst others provide information on biodiversity and cultural heritage.

In 2016, a dedicated email address was also set up (info@era.org.mt) to address all forms of environmental requests for information. Similarly, work is ongoing to develop a mobile application to provide customer care.

How can the public help halt loss of biodiversity?

The main causes of biodiversity loss are changes in natural habitats. These are due to intensive agricultural production systems, construction, quarrying, overexploitation of trees, sea, freshwater and soils, alien species invasions, pollution and global climate change. European lifestyles rely heavily on the import of resources and goods from all over the world, often encouraging unsustainable exploitation of natural resources.

What are the EU regulations towards addressing new/alien species in order to protect biodiversity?

The new Regulation on invasive alien species was published in the Official Journal on 4 November 2014. It came into force on 1 January 2015. The new regulation seeks to address the problem of invasive alien species in a comprehensive manner so as to protect native biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as to minimise and mitigate the human health or economic impacts that these species can have.

The regulation foresees three types of interventions; prevention, early warning and rapid response, and management. A list of invasive alien species of Union concern has been drawn up and managed with Member States using risk assessments and scientific evidence.

Where are the important Natural Areas in Malta?

Information on the important natural areas in Malta, can be accessed here.

Is a permit required for a research activity?

Research within protected sites requires a Nature Permit. A permit may be applied for by submitting an application form from here.

Is a permit required for a Clean Up event?
To determine if a permit is required, apply here
Is a permit required in order to organise an activity group event on a protected area?
To determine if a permit is required, apply here
Environmental assessment of development applications

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) is among the public entities consulted by the development consent authorities (primarily the Planning Authority) as part of the process which determines whether a proposed development project should be permitted and, if yes, under what terms and conditions. In this regard, ERA screens the proposals on which it is consulted, and assesses the environmental implications and impacts of environmentally-relevant proposals. ERA thus issues formal recommendations to the consulting authority on the acceptability or otherwise of the proposal from an environmental point of view, or on other measures to avoid or reduce adverse impacts. The latter may include: amendment or relocation of the proposed development, inclusion of pre-emptive or mitigatory measures as conditions in the development permit, the submission of further information or clarifications, or the need for an EIA or other studies. The ensuing recommendations are fed into the development consent process, and ultimately referred for consideration in the permitting authority’s decision on the proposed development.

What is an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and how is it triggered?

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a detailed environmental assessment mandated by the EIA Regulations, 2017 (S.L. 549.46), and consists of a structured and iterative process which seeks to predict, analyse and assess the likely environmental impacts of certain project proposals that may give rise to complex environmental issues (e.g. large projects, projects with unclear impacts, etc.).

The EIA process is typically triggered during the above-mentioned screening of incoming development proposals, if the project meets the criteria set out in the EIA Regulations. In such instance, a Project Description Statement (PDS) is requested. In some instances, the clarifications contained in the PDS are sufficient and the process can be concluded directly on the basis of such information. In other cases, impacts may remain unclear and may require an EIA report (a coordinated set of detailed environmental studies) guided by prior terms of reference, formal public consultations, review and final assessment by ERA. In some instances (Category I projects), such studies and their ancillary procedures may be automatically required by law, in view of the scale, nature or location of the project.

The aim of an EIA is to provide decision-makers with an indication of the likely significant effects and  implications of major projects on the environment, also identifying alternatives to the development proposal including the ‘do-nothing’ option, and what measures are deemed appropriate to address these considerations (e.g. rejection of the project, modification or downscaling of design, and/or inclusion of mitigatory measures, as relevant).

More information can be found on the following here.

How can EIA-related reports be accessed?

EIA-related information can be  downloaded for free  here . Older EIA-related documents can be made available for viewing by contacting eia.malta@era.org.mt.

What is an Appropriate Assessment (AA)?

Some development plans and projects may have a significant adverse impact on Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) or Special Protection Areas (SPAs), which are protected under the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations (SL 549.44). The potential effects of the proposal on protected habitats or species, or even on the integrity of the protected area, are also factored into the screening of development proposals and assessed in further detail as relevant.  Such evaluation is commonly referred to as an ‘Appropriate Assessment’ (AA), and its complexity may vary from simple screening-level assessment to detailed specialised studies, depending on the nature, scale and location of the proposal and its ensuing environmental implications. As in the case of other assessments mentioned above, the AA is intended to guide the decision-making process about the likely impacts, such that these can be factored into the decision.

More information can be found here.

Can a project require both an EIA and an AA?

Yes. Certain developments may require both an EIA and an AA, if they are within the scope of both the EIA Regulations and the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations. In such instances, the assessments are usually carried out in a coordinated manner to facilitate streamlining and avoid duplication of the ancillary studies and procedures.

What is a Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA)?

The SEA Focal Point within MESDC is the competent authority for SEA in Malta – For more information visit www.sea.gov.mt

What can be done when building sites are not covered as necessary, resulting in dust complaints?

Contact the Local District Police  and phone the Planning Authority’s Emergency number  2290 0000. The Police website provides more details.

I’ve seen someone dumping illegally, what do I do?

Please help us control illegal dumping of waste by sending details on info@era.org.mt, or phone on emergency number 2292 3500 or 99210404 (after office hours). Take note of important details such as vehicle registration number or send us a photo of the alleged contraventions.

If the dumping is carried out in a protected area, please contact info@era.org.mt

A list of protected areas can be found here.

My neighbour’s dog barks all night long, or a nearby bar/restaurant make a lot of noise, who do I contact please?

In these cases please contact the Local District Police. The following Police website provides more details on the police: http://www.police.gov.mt/

What about construction waste which is dumped in valleys?

Complaint should also be sent to info@era.org.mt, or phone on 2292 3500 or 9921 0404 after office hours.

In case of damage by oil spill at sea, who should I contact?

The authority competent for this sector is Transport Malta.

Malta Transport Centre, Contact Details:
Marsa MRS 1917
Malta

Tel: +356 21222203
Fax: +356 21250365

Email: info.tm@transport.gov.mt

What should I do if I suspect an illegal activity, such as burning of waste?

Please help us control illegal dumping of waste by sending details on info@era.org.mt, or phone on 2292 3500 or 9921 0404 after office hours.

Take note of important details such as vehicle registration number or send us a photo of the alleged contraventions.

What are the hunting regulations?

Hunting and Trapping are regulated by the Conservation of Wild Birds Regulations (S.L. 549.42) and the competent entity is the Wild Birds Regulation Unit. For more information refer to 2292 6401/02/03 or wildbirds@gov.mt.

Relevant legislation may be obtained online by visiting the website.

What is the Environment Action Programme and its role?

The 7th Environment Action Programme will be guiding European environment policy until 2020.

Its main objectives is to protect, conserve and enhance the Union’s natural capital, to turn the Union into a resource-efficient, green, and competitive low-carbon economy, to safeguard the Union’s citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health and wellbeing.

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance

Sustainable development takes into account all the implications (for downstream and upstream activities) of adopting new approaches.

For a product to be fully sustainable, consideration must be given to:

  • Source of raw materials
  • Control of pollutants arising from manufacture
  • Efficient use of energy
  • Production working environment
  • End of life, recycling

What is genetic engineering?

Engineering is the technological manipulation of objects in a way that is perceived to result in benefits to humanity. This word has often been used in the context of inanimate nature, such as bridges, buildings and machines. However, the term can also be used in a biological context, namely for manipulating living organisms.

Genetic engineering uses new methods of breeding that allow scientists to improve organisms. This is done by isolating genetic material from organisms, cutting this material and re-joining it to make new combinations. Copies of this recombined genetic material are then made, and introduced into organisms to give them a specific desired trait or characteristic.

How is a genetically modified organism made?

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are made by genetic engineering techniques, whose genetic material has been altered by man. The process involves altering or replacing parts of the genetic material of an existing organism. Therefore, the first step in making a GMO is to construct the new combination of genetic material that is inserted in the organism, and which will give a specific trait. This involves cutting and joining DNA from different sources so that they form a single stretch of genetic material. Cutting and joining of genetic material is done by using what are known as “enzymes”, these being proteins that speed up reactions in organisms.

The next step involves inserting the newly created stretch of genetic material into an unmodified organism, for example, a plant. Different techniques may be use to achieve this. One method involves the use of a “gene gun”, which fires tiny metal particles, coated with genetic material into cells. Another procedure uses an Agro bacterium. This is a type of bacterium, which through a natural process, transfers part of its genes into the plant’s DNA when it infects the plant. Prior to infecting the plant, the bacterium is modified so that part of its genes are replaced by the new stretch of genetic material. Thus, this new genetic material will be inserted into the plant’s genes by the bacterium itself.

When making a GMO, the natural process of reproduction is bypassed. In doing so, genes can be transferred between species that otherwise would not naturally interbreed. Thus, for instance, insect genes can end up in a plant, and genes from a bacterium can end up in an animal.

Why are GMOs produced?

For many thousands of years, the human race has tried to improve crop plants and domesticated animals through selective breeding. Nowadays, however, the characteristics of an organism may also be modified in a laboratory, producing GMOs; these have widespread applications. GMOs are used in, amongst others, biological and medical research, for the production of medicines, and in agriculture.

How does a GMO differ from its conventional counterpart?

Conventional plant breeders mate individuals from the same species or related species to produce offspring, which will have genes from both parents. For thousands of years, humans have been selecting the characteristics they prefer in plants and animals in order to satisfy their needs. This involved selecting and breeding the most beautiful, strongest and the most productive individuals to produce offspring, which would have hopefully inherited some of the desirable traits. This process is called “selective breeding”. The result of this process is a population that is genetically diverse and preserves much of the initial genetic diversity of the parental lines. Selection occurs in successive generations until the desired results are achieved. It is therefore reasonably controllable and predictable, although it involves a lot of trial and error.

Nowadays, research and development have led to a better understanding of the science of genes. A GMO bypasses reproduction altogether, so a gene from a completely different species can be used. For example, tomatoes can be genetically modified to stay fresh for longer by inserting a gene from fish into their DNA – something that was not possible before by selective breeding. This process is precise and is not subject to so much trial and error. However, GMOs also lead to a lack of genetic diversity, since all resulting GMOs would express the exact same gene for a particular trait.

What are the risk assessment consideration for GMOs?

Commission Directive (EU) 2018/350 applies. The Directive includes the content and level of detail required in notifications, particularly for the placing on the market of GMOs. It strengthens the risk assessment to be undertaken for the deliberate release or placing on the market of GMOs, particularly laying additional details on the intended and unintended changes resulting from the genetic modification, long-term and cumulative effects, and the quality of the data.

Which are the most common types of GMOs?

Plants have been the subject of most interest in recent years. The most common types of GM crops that have been developed and commercialised include genetically modified maize, soybean, oilseed rape, and cotton varieties. Such varieties have been developed to be either resistant to a particular herbicide (weed killer) or to certain crop pests, namely insects. There have also been a number of plants developed to exhibit both traits simultaneously, that is, resistant to both certain insect pests and a particular herbicide.

What is ERA’s role in the regulation of GMOs in Malta?

Due to their potential impacts on the environment, activities and releases of GMOs have to be controlled. The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), which is the Maltese authority responsible for environmental matters, is the Competent Authority in Malta for the implementation of Directive 2001/18/EC on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms.

GMOs that may have an impact on the environment include all living modified organisms, such as seeds, unprocessed grains, plants, and animals. Therefore, these types of organisms fall under the above-mentioned Regulations.

ERA is responsible only for viable non-food/feed GMOs, focussing on contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs), the deliberate release of such GMOs into the environment, and their placing in the market.

In this respect, ERA is designated as the National Competent Authority for:

On the contrary, products derived from GMOs such as paste or ketchup from a GMO tomato do not have an impact on the environment, so control and regulation of these products do not fall within the competency of ERA.

Issues linked with GM food and feed are addressed via the Food Safety Commission.

Is the safety of GM food assessed differently from that of conventional foods?

Specific assessments are necessary for GM foods. Specific systems have been set up for the rigorous evaluation of GM organisms and GM foods, relative to both human health and the environment. However, similar evaluations are generally not performed for conventional foods. Hence, there currently exists a significant difference in the evaluation process, prior to marketing for these two groups of food.

What is being done in Malta regarding GMOs?

Applicants from all over the world can apply for the authorisation to cultivate GMOs and to place on the market food, feed, and derived products that contain GMOs. This can be done by submitting a dossier with experimental data, and by providing a risk assessment to the national competent authority. Once the applicant receives the authorisation, this is valid throughout the EU.

Can Malta restrict the cultivation of GMOs in its national territory?

Malta may restrict the cultivation of GMOs at two distinct points in time:

  • During the authorisation procedure, Malta may demand for the adjustment of the geographical scope of an application to exclude part or all of its territory from cultivation, and;
  • After a GMO has been authorised in the EU, through the adoption of national measures that restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs.
What is meant by the term “habitat”?

“Habitat” of a species means the natural home or environment of a plant, animal or other organism, defined by specific abiotic and biotic factors, in which the species lives at any stage of its biological cycle.

Read more:

• S.L. 549.44 – Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations
• Habitats

What are the protected areas in Malta?

There are various types of protected areas in the Maltese Islands; these are summarised as follows:

 

For more information, refer to the ERA page:

 

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What are Special Areas of Conservation?

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are areas protected through the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations (S.L. 549.44) in view of species and habitats that occur therein. SACs of National Importance are sites protected at national level. SACs of International Importance are sites protected at both national and European level, the latter through the EU Nature Directives, including Natura 2000.

 

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What are Special Protection Areas?

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are areas protected through the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations (S.L. 549.44) in view of species and habitats that occur therein. SPAs of International Importance are sites protected at both national and European level, the latter through the EU Nature Directives, including Natura 2000.

 

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What are Tree Protection Areas?

Tree Protection Areas (TPAs) are areas protected under the Trees and Woodlands Protection Regulations (S.L. 549.123) for various criteria.

The criteria that make sites eligible for designation, as specified in S.L. 549.123, are available here:

a) Maltese characteristic woodland communities;
b) trees or woodland communities which are rare, threatened, endangered or that have a reduced or restricted distribution in Malta;
c) trees and woodlands critical to the survival, reproduction and recovery of endangered threatened, vulnerable, endemic or otherwise important flora and fauna species;
d) trees or woodland communities of scientific, ecological, aesthetic, historical, cultural, arboricultural, silvicultural, agricultural, educational or landscape interest;
e) prominent landmark trees;
f) historical trees listed in the List of Historical Trees having an Antiquarian Importance Order (S.L. 445.02);
g) ex-situ, live collection of rare, threatened or endangered specimens.

 

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What are Marine Protected Areas?

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are protected area under the in view of the species and habitats that occur within them.

The criteria for selection of MPAs are the following:

i) Presence of the following habitats and species:

Habitats

• Reefs
• Caves
• Sandbanks
• Posidonia meadows

Species:
Scientific Name English Name Maltese Name
Tursiops truncatus Bottlenose dolphin id-denfil geddumu qasir
Caretta caretta Loggerhead turtle il-fekruna komuni
Steromphala nivosa (=Gibbula nivosa) Maltese top-shell il-gibbula ta’ Malta
Calonectris diomedea Scopoli’s shearwater iċ-ċiefa
Puffinus yelkouan Yelkouan shearwater il-garnija
Hydrobates pelagicus melitensis Mediterranean storm-petrel il-kanġu ta’ Filfla

ii) Eligibility with the criteria included in Schedule IV of the

Further information is included in:

Is a permit required for a research activity in Malta?

If the research will be carried out within protected sites and/or would focus on a particular species listed in the Schedules of the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations (S.L. 549.44), this would require a Nature Permit. One can download an application form from here.

Similarly if research is to be carried out in a Protected Area and may have an impact on habitats, species or the integrity of the protected area, a permit may be required from ERA. For further information refer to this link.

 

For information on Maltese protected sites, kindly visit the ERA pages:

 

For information regarding legislation, please visit the following pages:

Is a permit required to go by boat near the island of Filfla?

If the plan only includes a boat trip and the taking of photographs, no nature permit is required. Nonetheless, no boat can berth, moor or anchor without the necessary permits. Any other activity may also require additional permits from ERA.

You are kindly requested to contact ERA on (+356) 2292 3500 or info@era.org.mt for further information. One can also download a Nature Permit application from here.

 

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What are the Nature Directives?

The EU Birds Directive and EU Habitats Directive are known as the Nature Directives; these form the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation policy.

The EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) ensures the conservation of a wide range of natural habitats and of rare, threatened or endemic wild fauna and flora. Adopted in 1992, Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora aims to promote the maintenance of biodiversity, taking account of economic, social, cultural and regional requirements.

The EU Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) aims to protect all of the 500 wild bird species that naturally occur in the European Union. It is the oldest piece of EU legislation on environment, first adopted in 1979 as Directive 79/409/EEC. It was later amended in 2009, becoming Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds.

Together, the Nature Directives establish the EU wide Natura 2000 ecological network of protected areas.

 

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What is the EU’s Habitats Directive?

The EU’s Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC ensures the conservation of a wide range of natural habitats and of rare, threatened or endemic wild fauna and flora.

Adopted in 1992, Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora aims to promote the maintenance of biodiversity, taking account of economic, social, cultural and regional requirements. Together with the EC Birds Directive (2009/147/EC), it establishes the EU wide Natura 2000 ecological network of protected areas. Both Directives form the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation policy.

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What is the EU’s Habitats Directive?

The EU’s Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC ensures the conservation of a wide range of natural habitats and of rare, threatened or endemic wild fauna and flora.

Adopted in 1992, Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora aims to promote the maintenance of biodiversity, taking account of economic, social, cultural and regional requirements. Together with the EU Birds Directive (2009/147/EC), it establishes the EU wide Natura 2000 ecological network of protected areas. Both Directives form the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation policy.

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What are Natura 2000 sites? Why are they protected?

The Natura 2000 is a network of important breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species, and some rare natural habitat types. These are all are protected in their own right. The network stretches across all 28 EU countries, both on land and at sea. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats, listed under both the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) and the EU Birds Directive (2009/147/EC).

 

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How many Natura 2000 sites are present in the Maltese Islands?

To date (March 2019), Malta has 41 sites under the EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), and 22 sites under the EU Birds Directive (2009/147/EC) – including both terrestrial and marine sites. In terms of land area, more than 13.1% (over 41km2) is covered by Natura 2000 sites; whilst when considering the marine environment, such sites cover 35.5% (4,138km2) of Maltese waters, equivalent to 13 times the terrestrial area of the Maltese Islands. Some SACs/SCIs completely overlap with SPAs, while some others overlap slightly.

For a list of all the Natura 2000 sites in the Maltese Islands, including both the terrestrial and the marine sites, kindly visit the ERA page: Natura 2000 Datasheets & Maps.

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Who is responsible for the Natura 2000 sites?

ERA, as the competent authority for Natura 2000 site management in the Maltese Islands, has the responsibility to ensure that all Natura 2000 sites are properly managed. However, there are various site management agreements that empower appropriate site managers, such as NGOs, to undertake necessary site management.

All terrestrial Natura 2000 sites are covered by management plans and conservation orders. These are available for download from here.

With respect to Natura 2000 marine sites, ERA is in the process of defining the objectives and measures for the management of Malta’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

 

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Which are the main EU policies that address the protection of freshwater and the marine environment?

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) are the two overarching Directives that address the protection of freshwater bodies and marine areas, which pertain to the European Member States. Both Directives share an integrated approach and consider both natural ecosystems, as well as the anthropogenic activities’ contribution to pressures on such waters.

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Which kind of initiatives promote the safeguarding of the Maltese environment?

Among various initiatives that were organised throughout the years, one can mention the following:

A Natura 2000 Information Campaign was carried out between 2013-2015. This entailed extensive media presence, including:

A Natura 2000 rotating public exhibition was also carried out, for example, in Marsaskala, Marsaxlokk and Pembroke in Malta, and in iċ-Ċittadella in Gozo.

As part of the Natura 2000 Management Planning process, three public attitude surveys (PAS) were carried out. The public was overall more aware of what is Natura 2000 than it was before the onset of the project.

In relation to focussed awareness activities, the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) participates in Malta u Lil Hinn Minnha, an educational television programme, which is broadcasted on Sunday, with various repeats throughout the week. During this programme, ERA provides information snippets on Malta’s natural heritage. The programme has also been awarded numerous journalism prizes.

Over the years, some events were specifically organised in lieu of particular occasions, amongst which Arbor day, Natura 2000 day, Biodiversity day, Turtle day, and Earth Week. Events were also organised during local festivals in order to maximise stakeholder engagement. ERA also organises an average of seven biodiversity educational walks per year in protected areas. Additionally, and for the first time in 2018, a series of four Bat Nights were organised during the summer months. Information on specific issues related to habitats and species and Natura 2000 were, and are still, covered by communication campaigns, including the national campaigns on invasive alien species, national species, marine protected areas, waste management (and aspects linked with biodiversity), green infrastructure and related information under the LIFE Projects.

In March 2017, the Malta Flora & Fauna mobile application was launched; the application offers a digital catalogue of flora and fauna, which can be found in the Maltese Islands. Users can also submit geo-tagged photos to help ERA in identifying locations of native/endemic and alien species, to recognise the most common pests that could attack plants and trees, and to report any potential pest cases to the Plant Protection Directorate. Furthermore, the “Parks” section in the application provides a list of the Maltese protected areas.

In relation to management of visitors, visitor centres were set up in a number of areas. These target different geographical parts of the Maltese Islands. The Government of Malta handles a number of these, whilst other are administered by eNGOs or the private sector. A number of these visitor centres target directly Natura 2000 sites, whilst others provide information on biodiversity and cultural heritage.

Since 2016, a dedicated email address was also set up (info@era.org.mt) to address all forms of environmental requests for information. Similarly, work is ongoing to develop a mobile application to provide customer care.

What is international environmental governance?

Most environmental issues are transboundary in nature, and therefore in many cases international action is more effective than individual action by nation states. International environmental governance may be described as the sum of organizations, agreements, policy instruments, financing mechanisms, rules, procedures and norms that regulate the processes of global environmental protection. Appropriate legal frameworks on the global, regional, national and local level are a prerequisite for good environmental governance.

Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) are an important tool for international environmental governance. They are legally binding upon those States that become party to them and often take the form of treaties known as Conventions or Protocols. Such instruments complement or supplement national or regional laws and may at times be directly applicable in a legal system. However, in general, MEAs require formal changes and enactment of national legislation in order to incorporate the measures outlined in the international law, into enforceable, domestic law. Notably, the EU is a party to many MEAs, though the European Member States, including Malta, reserve the right to become parties individually.

What international agreements is ERA focal point for?

ERA acts as a focal point for MEAs in the following principal areas: air, nature and biodiversity, waste, land and soil, water and marine resources, and, environmental governance.

What are the main pillars of EU environmental policy?

Since the mid-1970s, EU environment policy has been guided by action programmes defining priority objectives to be achieved in the environment over a period of years. The current programme, the 7th Environment Action Programme, was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union in November 2013 and covers the period up to 2020. The 7th EAP is a common policy framework that guides future action by the EU institutions and the Member States, who share responsibility for its implementation and the achievement of its priority objectives.

The programme lists nine priority objectives, as well as the actions the EU needs to undertake to achieve them by 2020. They are as follows:

  1. To protect, conserve and enhance the European Union’s natural capital;
  2. To turn the EU into a resource-efficient, green, and competitive low-carbon economy;
  3. To safeguard the EU’s citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to health and wellbeing;
  4. To maximise the benefits of the Union’s environment legislation by improving implementation;
  5. To increase knowledge about the environment and widen the evidence base for policy;
  6. To secure investment for environment and climate policy and account for the environmental costs of any societal activities;
  7. To better integrate environmental concerns into other policy areas and ensure coherence when creating new policy;
  8. To make the Union’s cities more sustainable;
  9. To help the Union address international environmental and climate challenges more effectively.
What is the environmental acquis?

In support of its environmental policy, there is a wide range of EU legislation in force concerning the environment. All EU environmental legislation is collectively known as the environmental acquis. The main areas of the acquis that ERA is responsible for are as follows:

Much of EU legislation to protect the environment is technical, in that it sets out detailed technical and scientific standards. It is also usual for the legislation to require Member States to provide information to the European Commission about how they are implementing these laws and about how effective they have been.

In the case of the international conventions on environmental protection, these are largely ratified by the EU and implemented through EU legislation.

How is EU environmental policy and EU environmental legislation negotiated and agreed?

The EU has the power to enact laws that are binding in all the Member States.  Once these laws (regulations, directives and decisions – see below for further info on these different laws) have been approved, Member States are obliged to take them on Board in national legislation. The three main EU institutions involved in decision-making are:

  • The European Commission;
  • The Council of the European Union;
  • The European Parliament.

This “institutional triangle” produces policies and laws that apply throughout the EU.  The European Commission proposes new legislation while the Council and the European Parliament adopt the laws.  The Commission then implements and enforces EU laws together with the European Court of Justice, and the Member States implement them.

The EU operates according to the principle of “subsidiarity”.  This means that the EU institutions must justify the need for common rules and actions and demonstrate that the envisaged objectives cannot be successfully achieved by the Member States acting individually.  The Lisbon Treaty allows national parliaments to object to a legislative proposal if it breaches the principle of subsidiarity.

The European Commission is the “guardian of the Treaties” and the EU’s executive organ. The Commission drafts proposals for new EU laws and presents them to the Council and European Parliament. It manages the day-to-day business of implementing common policies such as EU environmental policy, and the administration of the EU budget. The Commission also ensures that Member States act in accordance with the provisions of the Treaties and EU laws. The Commission is composed of 28 Commissioners, one from each Member State, and is appointed for a period of five years.

The Commission is divided into several “Directorates-General” (DGs) and services. Environmental issues are dealt with by the DG Environment, whilst climate action, agricultural, food safety, and trade are dealt with by the DG Climate action (CLIMA), DG Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI), DG Health and Food Safety (SANTE), and DG Trade (TRADE) respectively.

The complete list of the Commission’s DGs and services can be consulted at https://ec.europa.eu/info/departments_en.

The Council of the European Union, also known as the Council of Ministers, represents the Governments of the Member States.  The Council Presidency rotates between the Member States every six months. Malta’s very first Presidency ran between January 2017 – July 2017.

The Council shares with the European Parliament the responsibility for passing EU laws.  The Council and European Parliament also share the authority for approving the EU’s annual budget and the multi-annual financial programming. The Council consists of ministers from the Member States’ national governments.  Council meetings are attended by the ministers responsible for the items on the agenda.  There are 10 “sectoral” Councils: “General Affairs”, “Foreign Affairs”, “Economic and Financial Affairs”, “Justice and Home Affairs”, “Transport, Telecommunications and Energy”, “Agriculture and Fisheries”, “Environment”, “Education, Youth, Culture and Sport”, “Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs” and “Competitiveness”.

The Council takes decisions by a vote of Member State Ministers.  The Lisbon Treaty introduced a new “double majority” voting system, applicable since November 1, 2014.  Under the new voting system, for a legislative proposal to be adopted the support of at least 55% of the Member States (at least 16) representing at least 65% of the EU population is required. A blocking minority must include at least four Member States representing at least 35% of the EU population.

The European Parliament is directly elected every five years by EU citizens to represent their interests.  Each Member State holds a number of seats roughly proportional to the size of its population.  There are currently 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).  MEPs do not sit in national blocks but in EU-wide political groups.  The European Parliament shares with the Council the responsibility to pass EU laws on the basis of proposals presented by the Commission.  The European Parliament and Council also share the authority for approving the EU’s annual budget and the multi-annual financial programming.

The main meetings of the European Parliament are held in Strasbourg (France), whilst other meetings, such as the Committee meetings, are held in Brussels (Belgium).

The European Parliament uses two voting systems: “simple majority” which means the majority of MEPs voting and “absolute majority” which means the majority of its component members (currently 376 votes out of 751).

What is the difference between Regulations, Directives and Decisions?

 Regulations, Directives and Decisions are all legislative acts that are enacted by the EU. The differences between them relate to who they address and how they are implemented in an EU Member State.

A Regulation is a binding legislative act that is applied in its entirety across the EU without the need to transpose it (meaning legislatively incorporate it) into national law. Usually, national law will be created which will simply outline who the public body in change of the Regulation will be, and outlines any penalties which may be imposed on those who do not comply with the EU Regulation. Regulations are also directly effective, meaning that they may be relied upon in court by those concerned.

A Directive is a legislative act that sets out a goal and certain measures that all EU countries must achieve or adhere to, however, the Member States must then transpose this into national legislation and in doing so, have some flexibility in how the laws and measures are set (albeit within the framework of the Directive).

Decisions are EU laws relating to specific cases and directed to individual or several Member States, companies or private individuals. They are binding upon those to whom they are addressed and are directly applicable.

The EU may also issue recommendations and opinions. Both recommendations and opinions are non-binding; they allow the EU institutions to make their views known without imposing any legal obligation on those to whom it is addressed. A recommendation will suggest a line of action, whilst an opinion tends to be a statement on a particular topic.

Is all the environment acquis the responsibility of ERA?

Whilst ERA is responsible for implementing a majority of the environment acquis, a number of environmental matters fall under the remit of other national authorities and agencies. Indeed, some environmental dossiers require the collaborative effort of more than one entity. In such cases, a lead entity/authority is designated in order to ensure that coordination is carried out between authorities or entities involved. This designation also ensures that the implementation of the relevant legislation is effective and the respective environmental targets of the legislation concerned are met.

A list of the majority environmental acquis and relevant lead authorities for each environmental theme can be found here.

What are alien species?

Alien species are sometimes referred to as “exotics”, “introduced”, and “non-native” or “non-indigenous” species. Alien species are plants, animals and microorganisms that live outside of their natural range, which were introduced in their new environment, either deliberately or accidentally, through human activities. Many international introductions (deliberate) of alien species bring benefits to human society, such as crop plants, game and domestic animals.

In this respect, many alien species pose no negative impacts; on the contrary, they provide benefits to societies and economies. Concern arises when alien species are able to colonise their new territory and end up spreading uncontrollably.

The establishment of such species is facilitated when they encounter suitable living conditions, which include:

  • An agreeable climate;
  • No or few natural predators, parasites or diseases;
  • An abundance of food plants or prey that lack protection against the newcomer; or
  • An ability to out-compete native species and access the best resources.

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What are invasive alien species?

Invasive alien species (IAS) are alien species whose introduction or spread threatens or adversely affects their new environment. They represent a major threat to native plants and animals, causing damage worth millions of Euros every year. The increased use of the environment by man, combined with an increase in international mobility of people, and more efficient commerce (through better and faster modes of trade, travel and transport) have resulted in an increase in such “bioinvasions”.

The kaffir fig (MT: is-swaba’ tal-Madonna; SN: Carpobrotus spp.) for instance, was originally introduced intentionally as a sand stabiliser and as an ornamental plant. However, it managed to escape from cultivation and has now invaded some sand dunes and cliff communities. Another example is the red palm weevil (MT: il-bumunqar aħmar tal-palm; SN: Rynchophorus ferrugineus), which was accidentally imported to Malta with infested palm trees. This pest has unfortunately affected hundreds of specimens of the Canary Islands date palm (MT: il-palma tal-kannizzati; SN: Phoenix canariensis), which were beyond curative treatment and had to be destroyed.

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What are the national regulations/policies towards addressing new/alien species in order to protect biodiversity?

Various legislative provisions are currently in place to help minimise the harm invasive alien species may cause to Maltese biodiversity. Key to avert such damage is the prevention of such species from entering or spreading in our Islands, such as the restrictions applicable on the importation, propagation and sale of species included in Schedule III (Invasive, Alien or environmentally-Incompatible Species) of the Trees and Woodland Protection Regulations (S.L. 549.123).

The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) has moreover developed ‘Guidelines on managing non-native plant invaders and restoring native plant communities in terrestrial settings in the Maltese Islands, designed for the use by practitioners for the removal of invasive alien plants and habitat restoration or management. Such guidance details the steps to follow when curtailing the spread of invasive plants and addresses the management of some of the major plant invaders in the Maltese Islands.

Furthermore, as part of ERA’s work on the implementation of the  Natura 2000 Management Plans and Conservation Orders, a number of measures on the control of IAS are being undertaken in various localities with particular efforts being made in key protected areas of ecological importance.

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What are the EU regulations towards addressing new/alien species in order to protect biodiversity?

The Regulation (EU) No. 1143/2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction of invasive alien species came into force on 1 January 2015. The regulation seeks to address the problem of IAS in a comprehensive manner in order to protect native biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as to minimise and mitigate the effects of IAS on human health or the economy.

The regulation foresees three types of interventions: prevention, early detection and rapid eradication, and management. The risks and concerns associated with IAS represent a cross-border challenge that affects the whole of the EU. It is therefore essential for the adoption of bans at EU level on the intentional introduction of IAS in member states as well as,  their keeping, sale, use, breeding, and exchange.

Through the provisions of the above-mentioned Regulation, a list of Union concern was adopted, whereby species included in the list are subject to such restrictions. The first Union list of IAS, containing 37 species, entered into force on August 2016, and was further updated on August 2017 and 2019 through the addition of 12 and 17 new species respectively.

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Can zoos and wildlife parks keep listed IAS of Union concern ?

Yes. Zoos and wildlife parks can keep specimens of listed species until the end of their natural life cycle, whilst assuring that all the appropriate measures are in place to prevent any species from escaping and reproducing.

Read more:

ERA: List of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern

Can I take my IAS pet to a vet?

Yes. You do not need a permit for this, but you have to make sure that your pet cannot escape during transportation.

Should my IAS animal be neutered/spayed?

No. All IAS animals, kept both privately and in zoos/wildlife parks, do not have to be neutered/spayed as long as all the appropriate measures are in place to prevent their reproduction. They may be neutered/spayed; however, this is not mandatory.

Do I need to register or have a permit for my IAS pet?
How do establishments that keep IAS obtain a permit?

Establishments interested in keeping listed IAS of Union concern for research, scientific and medicinal use or conservation can apply for a permit with the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA). The latter is the competent Authority in charge of the implementation of the Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 in Malta. Following an application, the ERA will assess and grant (or deny) the permit accordingly.

Will there be controls in connection with Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014?

Yes. Provisions regarding penalties and controls expected under Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 are laid in the national legislation through the Control of Invasive Alien Species of European Union Concern Regulation (S.L. 549.119). Compliance and Enforcement officers (ERA) may inspect your premises (pet shops, garden centres, wildlife parks, etc.) and fine you if any breaches of the said Regulation provision are detected. Establishments that obtain a permit for keeping listed IAS of Union concern will also be subject to inspection to assure that the specified condtions are complied with.

Can IAS be removed from the list of Union concern?

IAS can be removed from the list of Union concern only if the European Commission is assured that one (or more) of the criteria that are specified in Article 4 (3) of Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014​, under which a given species was included on the list, are no longer met. Conversely, species can also be added (update of the list occurs every two years).

Read more:

ERA: List of Invasive Alien Species of Union concern

How are species for inclusion on the list of IAS of Union concern selected?

The European Union or Member States may propose species for listing. Every proposed species has to undergo a risk assessment, and if it is concluded that the proposed species is of a high risk nature for the environment and biodiversity, it will be proposed to the IAS Committee to be included in the list of IAS of Union concern.

For any additional queries, contact us via e-mail address on info@era.org.mt or through telephone number 2292 3500.​

What is Malta’s natural landscape?

Malta’s natural landscape is characterised by karstic rock and typical Mediterranean vegetation. It is mostly determined by its geomorphology, climate, biodiversity, and different settlement patterns and practices, including agriculture.

The main landscape features are:

  • Islands and sea;
  • Geology;
  • Cliffs and boulder screes;
  • A system of valleys;
  • Garrigues, including phrygana;
  • Other natural landscape features.

 

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What is soil made up of?

“Soil” is defined as the top layer of Earth’s crust. The term refers to a natural substance that is located in the so-called ‘critical zone’ of the Earth’s crust, and which is composed of weathered rock particles (minerals), organic matter, water and air. A typical sample of mineral soil is comprised:

  • 45% minerals;
  • 25% water;
  • 25% air, and;
  • 5% organic matter.

The above proportions can vary, as characteristics vary also in depth and across different landscapes.

In non-technical language, soil is regarded as ‘the skin of the planet. Technically, it is known as the ‘pedosphere’. The pedosphere is a unique, relatively immobile sphere that is easily impacted by human activities. In contrast to the other spheres of the Earth’s system, the pedosphere:

  • Can neither quickly intermix (as the atmosphere does);
  • Nor rapidly move laterally along the landscape (as water does),
  • Nor be clearly separated into individual units and avoid undesirable environmental changes (as the biota can be, and does);
  • Nor escape rapid human and biological perturbations (as is characteristic of the lithosphere).
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What are Maltese soils made up of?

There are different types of soils in the Maltese Islands, despite the archipelago’s minute territorial extent. Maltese soils are mainly derived from local geology, are highly calcareous, and closely related chemically to the natural and cultural landscapes that where prevailing at the time.

Maltese soil formations are classified as:

  • Carbonate;
  • Xerorendzinas;
  • Terra and soil complexes, and;
  • Further subdivided into subtypes (series), named after the localities where the first examples were noted.
What biodiversity do Maltese soils have?

Knowledge on soil biodiversity in the Maltese Islands is very limited, with information mostly limited to selected groups of:

  • Insects (mostly beetles);
  • Molluscs;
  • Fungi (mostly mushrooms), and;
  • Some invertebrate species (such as millipedes and isopods) associated with leaf-litter, particularly in wooded areas.
For further information on the above selected groups, please refer to:
Read more:
What are the primary causes behind soil quality deterioration?

During its extensive technical analysis related to soil conservation, the European Commission identified the following overarching challenges affecting soil quality integrity:

  • Compaction;
  • Contamination (diffuse and point source pollution);
  • Erosion;
  • Landslides;
  • Organic matter depletion;
  • Salinisation;
  • Sealing;
  • Biodiversity decline, and;
  • Desertification (including land degradation and drought).
Read more:
What is desertification?

Desertification is a global phenomenon, often characterised by significant human-induced pressures as it is largely caused by unsustainable use of scarce resources. It is the persistent degradation of dryland ecosystems. Desertification has environmental impacts that go beyond the areas that are directly affected. For instance, loss of vegetation can increase the formation of large dust clouds that can cause health problems in more densely populated areas, thousands of kilometres away. Moreover, the social media and political impacts of desertification also reach non-dryland areas. For example, human migrations from drylands to cities and other countries can harm political and economic stability.

For more frequently asked questions (FAQs) on desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD), kindly visit the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification’s FAQs page.

What is the MSFD?

The aim of the European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)  is to protect more effectively the marine environment across Europe.

The Marine Directive was adopted on 17 June 2008.

The Commission also produced a set of detailed criteria and methodological standards to help Member States implement the Marine Directive. These were revised in 2017 leading to the new Commission Decision on Good Environmental Status.

Annex III of the Directive was also amended in 2017 to better link ecosystem components, anthropogenic pressures and impacts on the marine environment with the MSFD’s 11 descriptors and with the new Decision on Good Environmental Status.

(Source: European Commission, 2017)

 

Read more:

Concretely, what is the aim of the MSFD? How does it work?

The Marine Directive aims to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) of the EU’s marine waters by 2020 and to protect the resource base upon which marine-related economic and social activities depend. It is the first EU legislative instrument related to the protection of marine biodiversity, as it contains the explicit regulatory objective that “biodiversity is maintained by 2020”, as the cornerstone for achieving GES.

The Directive enshrines in a legislative framework the ecosystem approach to the management of human activities having an impact on the marine environment, integrating the concepts of environmental protection and sustainable use.

In order to achieve its goal, the Directive establishes European marine regions and sub-regions on the basis of geographical and environmental criteria. The Directive lists four European marine regions – the Baltic Sea, the North-east Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea – located within the geographical boundaries of the existing Regional Sea Conventions. Cooperation between the Member States of one marine region and with neighbouring countries, which share the same marine waters, is already taking place through these Regional Sea Conventions.

In order to achieve GES by 2020, each Member State is required to develop a strategy for its marine waters (or Marine Strategy). In addition, because the Directive follows an adaptive management approach, the Marine Strategies must be kept up-to-date and reviewed every 6 years.

(Source: European Commission, 2017)

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What does a Marine Strategy include?

A Marine Strategy includes:

  1. The initial assessment of the current environmental status of national marine waters and the environmental impact and socio-economic analysis of human activities in these waters;
  2. The determination of what GES means for national marine waters;
  3. The establishment of environmental targets and associated indicators to achieve GES by 2020;
  4. The establishment of a monitoring programme for the ongoing assessment and the regular update of targets;
  5. The development of a programme of measures designed to achieve or maintain GES by 2020;
  6. The process is cyclical and the second cycle starts again in 2018.

 

(Source: European Commission, 2017)

 

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What about climate change?

Climate change is already affecting the marine environment and will continue to trigger changes in biological, chemical and physical processes. Such changes can reduce the ‘ecosystem resilience’ (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to persist despite disruption and change) to other man-induced pressures, leaving ecosystems increasingly sensitive to disruption. Impacts include rising sea levels, increased sea temperatures, precipitation changes, and ocean acidification.

Although some of the likely impacts of climate change in marine and coastal regions can be anticipated, the extent and location of these impacts is more difficult to predict with any certainty. Little is known for example about the effect of ocean acidification on carbon sequestration and consequential effects on marine food web and ecosystems.

Marine strategies in some coastal areas will need to identify ways of adapting to the effects of global warming and to reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems to climate change effects.

(Source: European Commission, 2017)

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How many decibels can the human ear handle?

The average person can hear sounds down to about 0 dB, the level of rustling leaves. The human ear can stand a maximum of 85 decibel as an average noise level over a day, before it is damaged by the noise. Anything above 85 decibels can cause permanent damage to your hearing. Normal conversation is typically situated in the 60-70 decibel range. Decibel is also known as dB or dB(A). noise levels.

The WHO guidelines for community noise recommend less than 30 A-weighted decibels (dB(A)) in bedrooms during the night for a sleep of good quality and less than 35 dB(A) in classrooms to allow good teaching and learning conditions.

The WHO guidelines for night noise recommend less than 40 dB(A) of annual average (night) outside of bedrooms to prevent adverse health effects from night noise.

http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/noise/data-and-statistics

What can I do personally to reduce my own noise pollution?

Noise pollution can be eliminated or reduced at the source of the noise by:

  • Keeping your motor vehicle’s muffler in good condition, and avoid unnecessarily revving of vehicles
  • Only honking your horn in an emergency.
  • Training your dog not to bark inappropriately.
  • Putting your cell phone on “vibrate” mode, and excuse yourself to a private area to conduct a phone conversation.
  • Turning off the TV if no one is watching it.

If you want to enjoy loud music, use headphones.

(http://www.noisehelp.com/noise-pollution-faq.html)

On the other hand, one can insulate himself from the noise. At the most simple level, this can be closing windows or doors. But in most cases, may involve something much more complicated (and expensive). Insulating walls, installing double glazing, putting in sound barriers can reduce noise entering into a house. In apartments, ensuring that flooring/ceilings are properly insulated is important.

What aspect of Noise Pollution falls under ERA?

ERA is responsible for the implementation of the Environmental Noise Directive 2002/49/EC (END) relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise,  which aims to reduce exposure to environmental noise by harmonising noise indicators and assessment methods, gathering noise exposure information in the form of strategic noise maps, and making this information available to the public.

The strategic noise maps and noise action plans are drawn up for areas inside designated agglomerations such as roads, industry and the effect of the airport on the agglomeration and also, in the vicinity of major roads across the country. The results of the strategic noise maps allow us to identify and assess the number of people living in dwellings who are exposed to a particular noise level at their most exposed building façade.

ERA also assesses the noise impacts arising from development proposals, IPPC industrial sites and other sites covered by an environmental permit.

Is noise pollution within the remit of ERA?

ERA is responsible for the implementation of the Environmental Noise Directive. The Directive applies to environmental noise to which humans are exposed; in particular built-up areas, in public parks or other quiet areas in an agglomeration, in quiet areas in open country, near schools, hospitals and other noise-sensitive buildings and areas; and in areas affected by noise from designated major roads, aircraft transport sources as well as industrial sites.

The Directive does not cover a) workplace noise, b) neighbourhood noise, c) construction noise, d) entertainment noise, e) noise nuisance, f) fireworks noise g) consumer product noise and h) noise transmission between dwellings.

Further information on these aspects may be found here.

Kindly direct any further queries you may have on ERA’s areas of responsibility, and after visiting our website, to info@era.org.mt

Other entities also have jurisdiction on Noise, namely the Environment and Health Directorate, and the Malta Police Force.

Nature

Which trees are protected by law?

The following trees are protected:

  • all trees of the species listed in the first schedule, Part A, Table 1 of the Trees and Woodlands Protection Regulations;
  • all trees of the species listed in the first schedule, Part A, Table 2 of the Trees and Woodlands Protection Regulations, if these are found within protected  areas (as defined in the regulations),  in ODZ, in green areas, and in natural or rural/green enclaves in an urban area (development zone), or in urban public open spaces (as defined in the regulations);
  • all trees that are visible on 1967 aerial photos or which are more than fifty (50) years of age, if located within  protected  areas,  ODZ,  within  an  Urban  Conservation Area (UCA) or in urban public open spaces;
  • trees,  woodlands  and  sites  of  historic  or antiquarian importance as listed in the List of Historical Trees Having an Antiquarian Importance Order;
  • all trees found within Tree Protection Areas and other protected areas;
  • all trees,  woodlands  and sites  protected  by  a  Tree Preservation Order or by an approved management plan for a protected area, as directed by such Order or Plan;
  • all trees of Indian fig or Ficus (Ficus  microcarpa s.l., =Ficus  retusaFicus  nitida), Red Gum or Red River Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis, = Eucalyptus rostrata) and Tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) if found in urban public open spaces;

However a number of exceptions may apply. For more information contact tree.permitting@era.org.mt

Waste Management

Is there an asbestos landfill in Malta?

There are no landfills accredited for asbestos waste in Malta.  Asbestos waste generated in Malta is exported for disposal.

What is a waste management permit?

According to the Waste Regulations published by Legal Notice 184 of 2011 and as subsequently amended by the Waste (Amendment) regulations as published by Legal Notice 441 of 2011, any facility carrying out any waste management operations should be permitted by ERA.

The scope of such permits is to make sure that certain environmental standards are maintained during the operations of these facilities. The permitted facilities are encouraged to operate in an environmentally sustainable manner. Facilities are also required to report the amount of waste that they treat on an annual basis. Only waste that are treated at authorized facilities may be deemed to comply with the environmental laws and may qualify for eco-tax reimbursement.

Further information may be obtained by sending an email on: env.permitting@era.org.mt or on 22923500.

What do I need, to obtain a waste management facility?

Clearance in writing from the Planning Directorate is requested confirming that the activity being applied for can take place at the selected premises prior to submitting the Environmental Permit Application form. This clearance needs to be returned to our office together with a completed Application Form.

Further information may be obtained by sending an email on: env.permitting@era.org.mt.

How do I know if waste is classified as hazardous or non-hazardous?

Waste can either be hazardous or non-hazardous, and depending on its nature it is assigned a six digit European Waste Catalogue code (Commission Decision 200/532/EC) .

To identify whether the waste is hazardous or non-hazardous, one needs to check whether the waste displays any one or more of the hazardous properties listed in schedule 3 of LN 184 of 2001. Checking the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) of the product can help you asses whether there are any hazardous substances within by comparing the “H codes”.

What should I do to dispose of a particular type of waste?

The full list of sites which are permitted to accept different waste streams can be found on the ERA website [Click Here].

In the event that there are no permitted facilities to accept a particular type of waste, you are requested to commission the services of a ERA registered waste broker to export directly the above mentioned waste from site of generation. For a full list of waste brokers [Click Here​].

What do I need to carry hazardous waste to a permitted facility?

In view that the waste is hazardous, movements must also be accompanied by consignment permits (valid for 1, 3, 6 or 12 months) and consignment notes issued by ERA.

Waste Carriers

What is a Waste Carrier?

A waste carrier represents any vehicle or sea vessel which is used to transport waste material from on place to another. The waste carrier registration system targets vehicles which carry any form of waste originating from commercial activities from the site of production to its disposal location or area of storage. Householders carrying their own waste to authorised waste collection/disposal points are exempt from this registration.

For a full list of registered waste carriers [Click Here]

Further information may be obtained by sending an email on waste.carriers@era.org.mt or on 2292 3500.

What do I need to be a registered Waste Carrier?

To apply for an application, one needs to submit the following:

  • A completed Application Form: available from ERA website [Click Here​]​;
  • The above application form needs to be compiled, signed and returned to our office together with the following documents:i. Three (3) photos of the vehicle (front, side and back);
    ii. Copy of log book;
    iii. Copy of license disk;

    ​If the waste carrier intends to carry hazardous waste than a certificate from a warranted engineer is to be submitted with the application.
    It is important that the applicant indicates clearly what type of waste he intends to carry.
How do I renew the Waste Carrier registration?

A completed renewal form and a copy of the valid vehicle licence needs to be submitted to ERA. You must ensure that the contact details are still valid.

ERA sends renewal forms for permits which are still valid a month in advance. For a copy of the renewal form [Click Here​].

How can I deregister a vehicle?

The applicant is to inform ERA by official correspondence that the permit is no longer required.

I have sold the vehicle to a third party. Is the permit still valid?

The permit is not valid if the vehicle is sold and the new owner needs to reapply.

What are the types of categories of waste carriers currently being permitted?

For a more detailed explanation of the different classes please refer to Activity 38 of Legal Notice 106 of 2007.

​​Class A1 Construction and Demolition waste​
​Class A2 ​Road Services and furniture – (Bulky Refuse, Road Cleaning and Beach Cleaning)
​​Class A3 ​Restaurants (Canteen wastes) and Municipal Waste – RCV’s
​​Class A4 ​Separated waste (including Non-Hazardous Packaging Waste)
​​Class A5 ​Other Class A waste
​Class B ​Vessels used for the transport of waste at sea. This includes vessels exclusively used for carriage of waste such as dredging barges. It does not include vessels which carry general goods, waste in containers or vehicles
​Class C1 ​Sharps/Hospital/Pharmaceutical Waste​
​Class C2 ​Other Class C waste except C1 and Animal By-Product Waste
​Class D1 ​Liquid Waste
​Class D2 ​WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment)including White Goods
​Class D3 ​Other Hazardous Waste
What is the difference between Radioactivity and Radiation?

Radiation is energy that travels in the form of waves or high speed particles. Radioactivity is the property of some atoms that causes them to spontaneously give off or radiate excess energy as particles or  waves. Such emissions are collectively called ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation has enough energy to break chemical bonds in molecules or remove tightly bound electrons from atoms, creating charged molecules or atoms, known as ions. Radioactive atoms emit ionizing radiation when they decay, which can cause harm to our bodies.

http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/understand/radiation_radioactivity.html#radioactivity

Is all ionizing radiation the same?

Ionizing radiation is by nature potentially harmful to life; can be lethal at high doses and can cause genetic damage at lower doses.

How far does radiation travel?

Travel distance depends on the type of radiation, as does the ability to penetrate other materials. Alpha and beta particles do not travel far at all, and they are easily blocked by solid matter such as a sheet of paper or aluminum plate respectively. By contrast, gamma rays, x-rays, and neutrons, being the highest energy rays in the electromagnetic spectrum can travel a significant distance and are much more difficult to block (particularly for large radioactive sources). When gamma radiation penetrates lead, this is not completely stopped but only damped.

 (http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/radiation/related-info/faq.html)

What is the Radiation Protection Commission and how does it protect people from radiation?

The Radiation Protection Commission (RPC) is the competent national authority in the field of nuclear safety and radiation protection. This Commission is set up through Chapter 585 – the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act. This Act makes provision for the protection of individuals in current and future generations against the harmful effects of ionising and non-ionising radiation and for the safety of radiation sources and to introduce preventive and protective measures of control for human exposure to ionising and non-ionising radiation and matters connected therewith or ancillary thereto.

What are ERA’s obligations with respect to ionising radiation?

Commission Recommendation 2000/473/Euratom concerning the monitoring of the levels of radioactivity in the environment for the purpose of assessing the exposure of the population as a whole, recommends to Member States obligations on the application of Articles 35 and 36 of the Euratom Treaty. The Euratom Treaty is the Treaty which establishes the European Atomic Energy Community.

Article 35 of the Euratom Treaty requires that each Member State establishes the facilities necessary to carry out continuous monitoring of the levels of radioactivity in air, water and soil and to ensure compliance with the basic safety standards. The Treaty also gives the European Commission the right of access to such facilities in order that it may verify their operation, efficiency and assessment of the adequacy of monitoring facilities.

Malta’s obligations with respect to the implementation of Articles 35 and 36 of the Treaty are set out in the National Environment Radioactivity Surveillance Plan (NERSP) for Malta. This plan identifies the monitoring requirements of ambient radiation, measurement of radioactivity concentrations in aerosols/ particles in air, food, drinking water, coastal waters and soils. The Radiation Protection Commission (RPC) is responsible to coordinate the implementation of the requirements of the Euratom Treaty. The responsibility is shared between a number of entities. ERA monitors the levels of radionuclides in air, sea water and soil. Further information is available here.

When is the State of the Environment report issued and where can I find it?

The State of the Environment Report is issued every four years.

The latest State of the Environment Reportcan be found here.

What is meant by the term ‘ecology’?

‘Ecology’ is the scientific study of the interactions between organisms and their environment, whilst ‘ecologists’ are scientists that study these interactions. The distribution, abundance, relations of the different organisms and their interactions within the environment, together form an ecosystem.

Within an ecosystem, there are several food webs. A ‘food web’ is an overview of which species in an environment consume which species (plant, animal or both). A healthy ecosystem has a variety of organisms that play different roles in various food webs. If an ecosystem loses one of its members, it can become crippled. For instance, if owls in a forest die out, rodents might start to multiply at a very high rate, causing them to overrun the area and finish resources that other animals use too.

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What does “endemic species” mean?

An endemic species is a native species that is only found in a given region or location and nowhere else in the world. Hence, a species found in Malta is referred to as a Maltese endemic species, such as the Maltese rock-centuary (MT: widnet il-baħar; SN: Cheirolophus crassifolius).

Read more:

  • S.L. 549.44Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations
Which species are protected in Malta?

The Environment Protection Act (CAP. 549) enacts a number of legislation for the protection of flora, fauna and natural habitats. The EC Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), which has been transposed into national legislation through the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations (S.L. 549.44), protects around 1,200 European species, other than birds, which are considered endangered vulnerable, rare and/or endemic. The protection provisions of the Directive are designed to ensure that the protected species reach a favourable conservation status within the EU.

On the other hand, the EC Birds Directive (2009/147/EC), which has been transposed into national legislation through the Conservation of Wild Birds Regulations (S.L. 549.42), protects over 500 wild bird species that are naturally occurring in the EU. Overall, activities that directly threaten wild birds, such as their deliberate killing, capture or trade, or the destruction of their nests, are banned with certain exemptions.

The mentioned S.L. 549.44, further protect species of national interest or concern. The latter regulations, in particular, provide protection to a number of rare and threatened trees, as well as identifying Tree Protection Areas.

For information regarding principal regulations that schedule protected species, please visit:

Read more:

Does an inventory of threatened wildlife in Malta exist?

The Red Data Book for the Maltese Islands, published in 1989, is the current, existent inventory of sensitive and threatened wildlife of the Maltese Islands. Nonetheless, work is ongoing on the setting up of a national database on biodiversity. The latter will incorporate updated Red Lists for selected species.

An assessment is also carried out periodically vis-à-vis habitats and species of European Community Importance, which are present in Malta, as required through Article 17 reporting, an obligation arising from Article 11 of the EC Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), and Article 12 reporting of the EC Birds Directive (2009/147/EC). These processes consider both terrestrial and marine aspects, and the assessments are carried out every six years. The results of these are available at the links below:

 

Article 17 report under the EC Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC):

Article 12 report under the EC Birds Directive (2009/147/EC):

Can wild fauna and flora of the Maltese Islands such as reptiles, seahorses, shells, fish and orchids be caught and locally traded?

Rare plant and animal species are locally regulated, amongst others, through:

Other entities address issues linked with trade of species, including wild birds, and aspects linked with fisheries, aquaculture and agriculture. For further information, kindly contact us via e-mail address on info@era.org.mt or through telephone number (+356) 2292 3500.

What should I do if I find injured wildlife?

If you come across a wild animal (excluding birds), which you believe is sick, injured or abandoned, you are kindly asked to immediately contact Nature Trust Malta (NTM) on (+356) 9999 9505 or info@naturetrustmalta.org.

NTM has all the necessary nature permits, allowing the said NGO to provide first aid and appropriate treatment to care for such animals. The primary objective of such care is to nurse sick animals back to health, rehabilitate them, and allow for their return into the wild once they are healthy.

On the other hand, should you come across a sick, injured or abandoned bird, you are kindly asked to immediately contact the Wilds Bird Regulation Unit (WBRU) on wildbirds@gov.mt or (+356) 2292 6401/02/03.

It is important to note that a number of wild species are protected through national legislation, such as the Flora, Fauna and Natural Habitats Protection Regulations (S.L. 549.44), and the Conservation of Wild Birds Regulations (S.L. 549.42), which restrict the taking and keeping of a number of protected species. Breaches of such Regulations are considered a criminal offence.

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What can I do to stop endangered species from going extinct?

To prevent endangered species from going extinct we need to reduce the pressures and threats that they face. At the same time, we also need to promote the right natural conditions to support healthy, wild populations. Species depend on one another for their survival. Our natural environment is a whole system of plants, animals, fungi and bacteria, all of which fulfil a variety of roles. To protect an endangered species, we also need to protect the natural environment that hosts it.

Considering that humans cause the major factors for biodiversity extinctions, we can all make small, simple changes in our everyday lives to make a real difference. For example, choosing to be energy and water efficient, reducing the amount of single-use plastic, and being respectful to wild animals by not disturbing them will help to protect our natural world by reducing some of the pressures that it faces.

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What can the public do to protect Malta’s marine life?

One of the best ways to protect our natural environment is to learn more about it. Online sources, TV shows and relevant publications contain a wealth of information that can help us appreciate our shared natural heritage. Being aware of Malta’s rich marine biodiversity will help us value the services that it provides. Acknowledging its fragility will help guide us to act responsibly, caring for our environment for future generations to enjoy.

Alternatively, if you are for a more hands-on approach, various organisation around Malta aim and work to conserve the natural environment. Becoming involved in environmentally oriented local initiatives and projects is a great way to start to make a difference.

Read more:

Are there any endangered species in our marine environment?

You might wish to refer to the Red Data Book for the Maltese Islands.

For further information, kindly contact us via e-mail address on info@era.org.mt or through telephone number (+356) 2292 3500.

Does Malta have a ‘healthy’ biodiversity?

The Environment Protection Act (Cap. 549) requires the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) to publish a State of the Environment Report (SoER) every four years. The latter is part of a commitment towards providing environmental information in a form that is easily accessible and user-friendly. Supplementing this obligation is the publishing of annual updates of key environmental indicators that are used in the SoERs.

The status of the habitats and species listed in the EC Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), and found in Malta, are categorised as:

  • Favourable
  • Unfavourable-inadequate
  • Unfavourable-bad
  • Unknown

According to the 2014 “Fifth National Report on the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity” (CBD 5NR), 43% of habitats and 40% of species that are found in Malta have a favourable conservation status, whilst 15% of species (mostly marine) and 0% of habitats have an unknown conservation status. Still, 57% of Maltese habitats and 45% of Maltese species have either an unfavourable-inadequate or unfavourable-bad conservation status.

Malta’s major environmental policy responses indicate that the country continues to take firm steps with respect to environmental protection. However, the sector remains dominated by a legislative approach, and in order for habitats and species to attain favourable conservation status, more stringent measures are required.

Read more:

What is the EC Habitats Directive?

The EC Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) ensures the conservation of a wide range of natural habitats and of rare, threatened or endemic wild fauna and flora.

Adopted in 1992, Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora aims to promote the maintenance of biodiversity, taking account of economic, social, cultural and regional requirements. Together with the EC Birds Directive (2009/147/EC), it establishes the EU wide Natura 2000 ecological network of protected areas. Both Directives form the cornerstone of Europe’s nature conservation policy.

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How does Malta help conserve migratory bird species?

Habitat loss and degradation are the most series threat to the conservation of wild birds. The EC Birds Directive (2009/147/EC), which was transposed into national law through the Conservation of Wild Birds Regulations (S.L. 549.42), places a great emphasis on the protection of habitats for endangered and migratory avifauna. The Regulations establish a network of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) that include some of the most suitable habitats for these species for the species. In Malta, 22 SPAs have been declared.

The Regulations, in addition, designate 26 sites as Bird Sanctuaries, and afford legal protection to a number of protected beaches from hunting and trapping. Activities that directly threaten birds are also regulated through these Regulations.

For further information, please consult Wilds Bird Regulation Unit (WBRU) on wildbirds@gov.mt or (+356) 2292 6401/02/03 as the legal entity that is responsible for wild birds in Malta.

Read more:

Which kind of initiatives promote the safeguarding of the Maltese environment?

Amongst various initiatives that were organised throughout the years, one can mention the following:

A Natura 2000 Information Campaign was carried out between 2013-2015. This entailed extensive media presence, including:

  • television spots;
  • the launch of an information audio-visual product;
  • the Natura 2000 Malta website;
  • the Natura 2000 Malta Facebook page, and;
  • various stakeholder meetings.

A Natura 2000 rotating public exhibition was also carried out, for example, in Marsaskala, Marsaxlokk and Pembroke in Malta, and in iċ-Ċittadella in Gozo.

As part of the Natura 2000 Management Planning process, three public attitude surveys (PAS) were carried out. The public was overall more aware of what is Natura 2000 than it was before the onset of the project.

In relation to focussed awareness activities, ERA participates in Malta u Lil Hinn Minnha, an educational television programme, which is broadcasted on Sunday, with various repeats throughout the week. During this programme, ERA provides information snippets on Malta’s natural heritage. The programme has also been awarded numerous journalism prizes.

Over the years, some events were specifically organised in lieu of particular occasions, amongst which Arbor day, Natura 2000 day, Biodiversity day, Turtle day, and Earth Week. Events were also organised during local festivals in order to maximise stakeholder engagement. ERA also organises an average of seven biodiversity educational walks per year in protected areas. Additionally, and for the first time in 2018, a series of four Bat Nights were organised during the summer months. Information on specific issues related to habitats and species and Natura 2000 were, and are still, covered by communication campaigns, including the national campaigns on invasive alien species, national species, marine protected areas, waste management (and aspects linked with biodiversity), green infrastructure and related information under the LIFE Projects.

In March 2017, the Malta Flora & Fauna mobile application was launched; the application offers a digital catalogue of flora and fauna, which can be found in the Maltese Islands. Users can also submit geo-tagged photos to help ERA in identifying locations of native/endemic and alien species, to recognise the most common pests that could attack plants and trees, and to report any potential pest cases to the Plant Protection Directorate. Furthermore, the “Parks” section in the application provides a list of the Maltese protected areas.

In relation to management of visitors, visitor centres were set up in a number of areas. These target different geographical parts of the Maltese Islands. The Government of Malta handles a number of these, whilst other are administered by eNGOs or the private sector. A number of these visitor centres target directly Natura 2000 sites, whilst others provide information on biodiversity and cultural heritage.

In 2016, a dedicated email address was also set up (info@era.org.mt) to address all forms of environmental requests for information. Similarly, work is ongoing to develop a mobile application to provide customer care.

Which trees are protected by law?

The following trees are protected:

  • all trees of the species listed in the first schedule, Part A, Table 1 of the Trees and Woodlands Protection Regulations;
  • all trees of the species listed in the first schedule, Part A, Table 2 of the Trees and Woodlands Protection Regulations, if these are found within protected  areas (as defined in the regulations),  in ODZ, in green areas, and in natural or rural/green enclaves in an urban area (development zone), or in urban public open spaces (as defined in the regulations);
  • all trees that are visible on 1967 aerial photos or which are more than fifty (50) years of age, if located within  protected  areas,  ODZ,  within  an  Urban  Conservation Area (UCA) or in urban public open spaces;
  • trees,  woodlands  and  sites  of  historic  or antiquarian importance as listed in the List of Historical Trees Having an Antiquarian Importance Order;
  • all trees found within Tree Protection Areas and other protected areas;
  • all trees,  woodlands  and sites  protected  by  a  Tree Preservation Order or by an approved management plan for a protected area, as directed by such Order or Plan;
  • all trees of Indian fig or ficus (Ficus  microcarpa s.l., =Ficus  retusaFicus  nitida), red gum or red river gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis, = Eucalyptus rostrata) and tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala) if found in urban public open spaces;

However a number of exceptions may apply. For more information contact tree.permitting@era.org.mt

What is a threshold?

The threshold is the maximum quantity of solvent (or solvent emission) which a company can use (or emit) within its premises; this varies according to the industry. The threshold for each industry has been stipulated in S.L. 549.79 as transposed form EU Directive 2010/75/EU.​

What are emission limits and why are there different types?

Emission limit values stipulate levels of VOC solvent/s that are tolerated through regulations entrusted within the Directive and National Legislation. Emission limits vary from one industry to another.

The different types of emission limits are to meet the technical requirements of different production processes and the various methods which are available to reduce emissions. For example, if you choose end-of-type abatement, then a stack emission limit will be more convenient than a limit based on the weight of solvent emitted per square metre of material coated. However, if you choose a low solvent option, then the latter may be more appropriate.

There are five basic types of emission limit quoted in the Directive and National Legislation. These are:

  • Stack emission limits – as a concentration of solvent in air
  • Fugitive emission limits – as a percentage of total solvent input
  • Emission limits – as a percentage of total solvent input
  • Emission limits relating to a unit of production – per unit produced
  • Emission limits set in the Reduction Scheme – per weight of solid coating used
What are stack and fugitive emission limits?

Stack emission limits are given as a concentration of solvent which is emitted through the stack. Such limits are normally quoted in milligrams of solvent per normal metre cubed measured as total carbon. Stack emission limits are normally achieved by using end-of-type abatement equipment. Stack emission limits only apply to those vapours which are captured and treated. In most operations there are emissions which do not get captured and hence are very difficult to assess and/or monitor; these are referred to as fugitive emissions. Where stack emission limits apply, there are also limits on fugitive emissions; these are expressed as a percentage of total solvent inputs. See Solvent Management Plan for calculations of total and fugitive emission values.

How to convert VOC emissions expressed in VOC into carbon emissions (mg C/Nm³)?

Emission limits for waste gases, as quoted in VOC Directive, is in mg C (carbon)/Nm3. It is therefore imperative for VOC solvent users to convert volumes or masses of VOC into carbon emissions (in mg C/Nm3) in order to compare their emissions with the waste gas emission limits of the Directive. The carbon content of a solvent can be either supplied by the manufacturer or found on the ESIG web site. The carbon emission from VOC oxygenated solvents and single molecule hydrocarbon solvents can be calculated through the following formula:

(Number of C atoms in the molecular structure x 12/ molecular weight) x 100%

What is waste?

Waste is any substance or object which the holder discards, intends to discard or is required to discard.

What is waste management?

Waste management is about the collection, transport, recovery or disposal of waste.

What is main legislation regulating waste management in Malta?

The main legislation governing waste management in Malta is the Waste Regulations (S.L. 549.63). However, other legislation apply for specific waste-streams.

What are the main principles of the waste hierarchy?

Article 4 of the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) sets a stepped-priority approach for waste management as follows:

  • Prevention of waste;
  • Preparing for Re-use;
  • Recycling;
  • Recovery; and
  • Disposal.
What is Malta’s proposed vision for the waste sector?

The Waste Management Plan for the Maltese Islands – A resource management approach, covering the period between 2014 and 2020, sets out the numerous measures which are to be implemented in the waste sector from a national context, including also a waste prevention programme.

How much waste is generated in Malta?

On average Malta generates approximately 1,800,000 tonnes of waste annually.

How much municipal waste is generated per capita in Malta?

On average, Malta generates 620 kilograms per person of municipal waste. In comparison, the average EU per capita rate is approximately 484 kilograms per capita.

How much municipal waste do we landfill in Malta?

Approximately 90% of municipal waste generated in Malta would ultimately be landfilled.

What is the main waste-stream generated from households?

The largest portion of household waste constitutes food waste and dry recyclables such as paper, cardboard, plastic, metal and glass.

Which sector largely contributes to the generation of waste in Malta?

Construction and demolition waste constitutes the largest share of waste generation in Malta, which is highly dependent on ongoing trends in the construction sector.

How can I actively contribute as a citizen towards better waste management?

Prevention of waste together with reuse initiatives are the most effective means to decrease waste generation. The separation of waste at source is an effective practice, which contributes to higher recycling rates. The separation of waste would also help Malta in moving up the waste hierarchy, thus  diverting its waste from the landfill and reducing the pressures on the only landfill in Malta.

How can I contribute to prevent the generation of waste?

Reuse of materials is the best solution. The nationwide Don’t waste waste campaign provides various tips on how to reuse different types of objects

Are waste collection schedules specified in the law?

Waste collection schedules are stipulated in the national legislation – specifically, Schedule 3 of the Abandonment, Dumping and Disposal of Waste in Streets and Public Places or Areas Regulations, S.L. 549.40.

Households are to deposit or leave their bag for the purposes of collection not more than 4 hours before the collection time determined by the Local Council.

What can be placed in the mixed recyclable bins?

Households are encouraged to separate their waste and dispose of any paper, cardboard, plastic and metal waste generated in the grey or green bag.

Examples include:

  • Paper such as newspapers, magazines, envelopes and wrapping paper;
  • Cardboard such as cereal boxes and food boxes;
  • Plastic such as empty cosmetic bottles, detergent bottles, yoghurt cups, bottle caps and beverage bottles; and
  • Metal such as beverage cans, food tins, jar lids and empty spray cans.

Households are to ensure that such recyclables are dry and clean prior disposing them in the grey/green bag.

What can be placed in the organic bag?

Organic waste should be separated from other waste and placed in the white bag collected every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Examples of organic waste that can be deposited in the organic bag are:

  • Cooked and raw food including bones, fish & shellfish, bread & pasta;
  • Rotten fruit & vegetables, fruit & vegetable peels, egg shells;
  • Tea bags & grinded coffee;
  • Paper/Napkins/Newspapers contaminated with food waste; and
  • Leaves & Flowers.
How is glass handled?

Glass is collected on a monthly basis from door to door collection systems which are in place. Such materials can also be disposed of at the nearest Civic Amenity Sites or Bring-In Sites.

What are the procedures to follow when one wants to throw away appliances/furniture/white goods?

To dispose of large items (such as bulky waste, large household appliances etc.) which are not collected through the daily collection systems, the general public are encouraged to make use of the free service for collecting bulky refuse by contacting directly the Local Council in order to fix an appointment. Alternatively, households can make use of one of the  Civic Amenity Sites.

How is Construction and Demolition Waste handled in Malta?

A large share of Construction and Demolition Waste is backfilled in excavation voids. Construction and Demolition waste generated at households can be disposed of at a Civic Amenity Site.

Which type of waste can I dispose of at one of the Civic Amenity Sites?

Items to be disposed of at one of the Civic Amenity Sites include:

  • expired medicine;
  • used syringes & mercury thermometers;
  • waste batteries;
  • light bulbs;
  • waste electrical and electronic equipment such as computers;
  • monitors;
  • water heaters;
  • mobile/smart phones;
  • printers;
  • electronic tools;
  • expanded polystyrene (i.e. jablo);
  • unemptied aerosal spray cans;
  • solvents;
  • chemicals;
  • paint and other hazardous waste;
  • edible oil and lubricant oils;
  • furniture and mattresses;
  • waste arising from minor do-it-yourself construction activities
What are the types of waste which can be disposed at sea?
  • Dredged material;
  • Clean, inert geological material arising from excavations and from demolition.
Am I considered a producer of packaging and packaging material, electrical and electronic equipment, batteries and accumulators, or vehicles?

Any business/producer who manufactures and/or imports products with the intention to supply such products for distribution, consumption or use on the Maltese market is considered a producer.

What are my main legal obligations as a producer?

In line with the principle of extended producer responsibility, importers and, or manufacturers of packaging or packaging material; batteries and accumulators as well as electrical and electronic equipment are to ensure that they fulfil their obligations emanating under various legislations, namely the Waste Management (Packaging and Packaging Waste) Regulations – S.L. 549.43, the Waste Management (Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Regulations – S.L. 549.89, the Waste Management (Waste Batteries and Accumulators) Regulations – S.L. 549.54, including the obligation to set up and finance systems for the management of waste arising from such products.

What are my responsibilities as a commercial entity concerning the management of waste?

As part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR), commercial and industrial entities are encouraged to introduce standard operating procedures to deal with waste generated by their activities as well as to provide to their employees the right waste management infrastructure that promotes waste separation at source (e.g. bins for different waste streams).

The Waste Regulations (S.L. 549.63) provides that it shall be the duty of any original waste producer to ensure that the waste is managed, in accordance with the said regulations. In this context, it would be the responsibility of the establishment or undertaking (companies, businesses) producing any commercial/industrial waste throughout their activity to provide for its collection by engaging waste carriers duly authorised by ERA and ensure that such waste is delivered to authorised waste management facilities.

How is waste treated in Malta?

The largest share of waste generated in Malta is stored at authorised sites and then exported abroad for further treatment.

Where is waste disposed of in Malta?

In Malta there are currently two authorised disposal facilities, the Ghallis Non-Hazardous Landfill and the Marsa Thermal Treatment Facility. The thermal treatment facility, in the bigger part, treats abattoir waste and healthcare waste.

Are any plans for a waste-to-energy facility envisaged for Malta? What are the benefits of turning waste to energy?

Government has recently committed to introduce a new waste-to-energy plant, with the intention to process 40% of the non-recyclable waste generated in Malta. Whilst Malta shall remain committed toward recycling, such an energy recovery plant shall contribute to divert waste from the landfill.

What are marine discharges?

Accidental oil spills and cleaning operations are the main source of pollution from ships, placing enormous demands on the national authorities responsible for response and clean-up operations. Europe is the world’s largest market of crude oil imports, transported from and to Europe mainly by sea. Inevitably, some of this makes its way into the sea, whether by accident or resulting from ship operations. “Prestige” and “Erika” are examples of the environmental damage that can be caused by accidents of large oil spills.

For more information kindly refer to this link.

How is the quality of marine discharges regulated?

Directive 2008/105/EC on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy.

The Commission establishes environmental quality standards so as to limit the quantity of certain chemical substances that pose a significant risk to the environment and to health in surface water in the European Union (EU). These standards are coupled with an inventory of discharges, emissions and losses of these substances in order to ascertain whether the goals of reducing or eliminating such pollution have been achieved.

What is the WFD?

The EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) is considered one of the most important pieces of legislation about water produced by the European Commission in the past 20 years. Adopted in 2000, its aim is to be the main driver for the sustainable management of water in the EU and its member states in the years to come. It was transposed into national legislation through the Water Policy Framework Regulations (S.L. 549.100).

The purpose of the WFD is to establish a framework for the protection of inland surface waters, transitional waters, coastal waters and groundwater. It would thus lead to the prevention of further deterioration, as well as, to protect and enhance the status of aquatic ecosystems. It requires that all inland and coastal waters reach at least good ecological and chemical status by 2015 and maintaining good status or better thereafter. Good water quality will contribute in securing a supply of drinking water.

Some amendments have been introduced into the Directive since 2000. The consolidated version can be downloaded here.

Read more:

What is the aim of the WFD?

The WFD promotes sustainable water use based on a long-term protection of available water resources. It aims at enhanced protection and improvement of the aquatic environment, through specific measures for the progressive reduction and phasing out of discharges, emissions and losses of priority hazardous substances.

One of its aims is to lead to a progressive reduction of pollution of groundwater and to contribute to mitigating the effects of floods and droughts.

This should lead to:

  • The provision of a sufficient supply of good quality surface water and groundwater, as needed for sustainable use;
  • Balanced and equitable water use;
  • A significant reduction in pollution of groundwater, and;
  • The protection of territorial and marine waters.

To reach its ambitious objective, the WFD is based on a plan called the River Basin Management Plan (RBMP), or in the Maltese context, better known as the Water Catchment Management Plan, together with a Programme of Measures (PoMs).

Dues to its small size, Malta has one Water Catchment Management Plan, which covers the different water bodies in all of its territory.

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What is a “water catchment district"?

A “water catchment district” is an area of land where rainwater drains into a body of water, such as groundwater, inland surface waters, and coastal waters. In the future, the protection and improvement of water quality in the Maltese Islands will be co-ordinated based on the areas established for the purposes of the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC). Through sub-regulation 4 (1) of the Water Policy Framework Regulations (S.L. 549.100), the whole of Malta and Gozo has been designated as one water catchment district.

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What is a Water Catchment Management Plan?

The WFD requires the establishment of a Water Catchment Management Plan for each water catchment district. The plan must give details of:

  • All the water bodies in the area
  • The objectives, established for those water bodies, and;
  • The measures that will be adopted to achieve them.

The Programme of Measures (POMs) spells out the steps that will be taken to implement that plan.

For further information, refer to Malta’s:

Does the WFD relate to drinking water only?

No, the WFD applies more widely than drinking water. For example, it also encompasses water for irrigation, bathing water, and wastewater. Furthermore, it applies to rivers, lakes, groundwater and coastal waters.

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What is “water pollution”?

“Water pollution” is defined as the direct or indirect introduction by man, or due to natural processes, into the environment of substances, energy, organisms or genetic material that cause or are likely to cause:

  • A hazard to human health, or;
  • Harm to living resources or to the environment.

Read more: