Fabian Demicoli

Environment: Commission asks Malta to comply with European legislation on industrial emissions

 The European Commission is concerned that Malta is failing to protect its citizens from noxious air pollution from a major power plant. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is sending a reasoned opinion. If Malta fails to reply within two months, the Commission may refer the case to the European Court of Justice.
Under the Large Combustion Plants Directive – legislation designed to limit the emissions of various pollutants – Malta has agreed to operate its Marsa power station for no more than 20 000 hours between 2008 and its definitive closure no later than 2015.

 

The power station, which produces some 45 % of Malta's electricity, contains four combustion plants, three of which have already passed the 20 000 hours ceiling, while the fourth is approaching the ceiling. EU law contains no provisions for passing this ceiling, which is a final extension of earlier deadlines. While a replacement power station is nearing completion, concerns about timing remain and the Commission is of the opinion that Malta is therefore failing to protect its citizens from pollution emitted by the Marsa plants.

A letter of formal notice was sent on 28 February 2012 inviting Malta to submit its observations within two months. In the absence of official reply, a reasoned opinion is now being sent. Background The overall aim of the Large Combustion Plants Directive is to reduce emissions of acidifying pollutants, particles, and ozone precursors. Control of emissions from large combustion plants – those whose rated thermal input is equal to or greater than 50 MW – plays an important role in the Union's efforts to combat acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone as part of the overall strategy to reduce air pollution. Further information: For current statistics on infringements in general: http://ec.europa.eu/community_law/infringements/infringements_en.htm See also: MEMO/12/464 More details on EU air policy: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/index_en.htm

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