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MEPA draws up a new environmental permitting system

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MEPA draws up a new environmental permitting systemA new draft environmental permitting system has been drawn up by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) to improve the regulatory framework applicable to industrial activities of environmental significance. This proposed system will further result in improving the protection of the environment, while offering several advantages to industry, such as legal certainty, clearer definition of environmental liability and the opportunity to identify priority environmental issues to enable appropriate risk management.

The system which is risk-based, focuses the regulatory efforts on activities with potentially significant environmental impacts. Examples of such facilities would include fuel and container terminals, shipyards, airports, batching plants, quarries, fish farms, waste management activities, industrial activities with a discharge to sea and certain manufacturing plants.

Businesses that carry out such activities will be required to apply for an environmental permit within a set timeframe in order to continue operating. The permit will include conditions on emissions to air, discharges of wastewater, noise and vibration, management of waste and appropriate storage of materials. The environmental permit may also include an improvement programme, to ensure that compliance with environmental standards is achieved within a set timeframe.

The industrial activities have been categorised into a four tier schedule depending on the different level of environmental risk. Each category has been given a different timeframe for an application to be submitted and for a permit to be issued.

Mr Michael Sant who heads the Unit responsible for Industrial Permitting within Mepa said, “The environmental permitting system plays an integral role in ensuring that businesses are not only aware of environmental responsibilities but most importantly are able to meet their responsibilities.”

He added that “This new system will essentially cover industrial activities that carry a potential environment impact and which fall outside the regulatory parameters of the two other environmental permitting systems we currently manage, better known as the IPPC permitting for large-scale industrial and agriculture activities and the GBRs for micro, small and medium size enterprises which are below environmental permitting thresholds.”

The proposed environmental permitting framework is accessible on the MEPA website The Authority is encouraging the business sector, NGOs and the public to submit their feedback and comments throughout this public participation period, through email address Further information may be obtained by contacting the Environmental Permitting & Industry Unit within MEPA on 2290-7230. The public participation exercise will close on the 31st January 2012.

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