The Maltese Government keeps postponing the safeguarding of people's health in connection with air quality. Some months ago the European Greens (on behalf of Alternattiva Demokratika) put forward a European parliamentary question on this issue. Read about the Government's request to the European commission....
Malta to request PM10 pollution exemption until 2011
The Malta Independent on Sunday, 23 August 2009
Malta is to lodge a request to be exempted from EU rules on air quality and PM10 traffic pollution until mid-2011, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said in reply to a recent European Parliamentary question on the issue of PM10 pollution, which has been shown to be particularly high in the Sliema and Gzira areas.
In reply to a parliamentary question raised by a member of the European Greens, Mr Dimas confirmed that the latest information he had in hand from the Maltese authorities was that the country was intending to request an extension in meeting the EU’s limits on such pollution – meant to be in force come 1 January – until 11 June 2011.
Under the EU’s directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe, a member state can submit a notification for an exemption from the obligation to apply limit values for PM10 and, Mr Dimas said, Malta is expected to submit the notification and the necessary documentation next month.
While no infringement proceedings have been instituted against Malta, Mr Dimas added: “In view of the fact that Malta has neither submitted a notification nor demonstrated that compliance with the limit values has been achieved, the Commission is currently considering launching infringement proceedings against Malta for non-compliance with PM10 limit values.”
According to the annual air quality report for 2007 submitted to the Commission by Malta in December 2008, Malta’s PM10 limit values continued to be exceeded in the Sliema and Gzira areas, while NO2 concentrations had exceeded the limit, which comes into force at the beginning of 2010, by 25 per cent.
PM10 pollution refers to particulate matter 10 micrometers in size or less, while N02 is nitrogen dioxide.
Once Malta submits its notification for an extension, the Commission will have nine months in which to assess whether the conditions attached to an exemption request have been met. The assessment process will allow the Commission to look in-depth at how air quality is being managed in the areas in question, including the impact of traffic management measures and urban development on air quality.
Under the directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe, a member state can apply for an extension in meeting the PM10 level limits until 11 June 2011 only when, in a given zone or agglomeration, the target levels cannot be achieved because of site-specific dispersion characteristics, adverse climatic conditions or trans-boundary contributions. That member state would also have to show – through an air quality plan detailing the pollution in question and laying out how conformity with the limits will be achieved before the new deadline – that all appropriate measures have been taken at national, regional and local level to meet the deadlines.
The state would also have to supply all the relevant information necessary for the Commission to carry out an assessment as to whether the conditions have been satisfied.