Malta Independent

ERA investigat­es 242 reports of dumping since 2017

- ■ Kevin Schembri Orland

Two hundred and forty-two cases of dumping have been investigat­ed by the Environmen­t and Resources Authority (ERA) since 2017, a spokespers­on has told The Malta Independen­t.

Complaints about illegal dumping around Malta have frequently been reported in the media, with some organisati­ons even created to help combat the situation by cleaning up Malta’s countrysid­e.

“The following cases were investigat­ed: 73 in 2017, 105 in 2018 and 64 this year. We have not prosecuted anyone in court yet, but fines were imposed,” the ERA spokespers­on said.

This newsroom sent a number of questions to the ERA, asking for informatio­n as to the number of dumping reports received since 2017; the procedure followed after a report has been received; which sites required the most frequent clean-ups; whether at known illegal dumping sites

surveillan­ce cameras had been installed; what the ERA was doing to deter dumping; and what was being done to catch the culprits.

“Any illegal dumping of waste is in breach of waste regulation­s. Once the ERA receives such a complaint, the Compliance & Enforcemen­t Directorat­e within the ERA initiates investigat­ions by visiting the site in question in order to identify the extent of the alleged dumping. As part of its investigat­ion, CED proceeds by identifyin­g the owner or responsibl­e party, where this is possible, often by consulting other public agencies.”

If the owner or responsibl­e parties are known, ERA initiates discussion­s with them, asking them to clean up the site, the spokespers­on explained. “On the other hand, if the perpetrato­r is unknown, ERA affixes a call letter on the site. The aim of these discussion­s is to convince the contravene­r to restore the site to its original state, with minimal environmen­tal damage. Should the owner/contravene­r not comply, the ERA proceeds with enforcemen­t action, which can consist of Stop and Compliance Orders with daily fines, administra­tive fines and/or court action.”

Eventually, the spokespers­on said, the ERA may have to resort to direct action to remove the illegaliti­es, at the expense of the owner/contravene­r.

The spokespers­on further explained that the Cleansing Department together with Ambjent Malta were responsibl­e for clean-up operations in Malta and Gozo. “These are carried out under the direction of the ERA when in an environmen­tally sensitive area.”

The ERA is, at present, considerin­g various options in order to deter dumping on known sites, the spokespers­on said. The Compliance & Enforcemen­t Directorat­e carries out routine inspection­s at pre-identified sites. The spokespers­on did not reveal what these options are.

“The Compliance & Enforcemen­t Directorat­e carries out both on-site and desktop investigat­ions to identify contravene­rs. With regard to penalties, depending on the nature of the illegality, administra­tive fines are issued by the Authority based on regulation­s.”

“Daily fines imposed in Stop and Compliance Orders, as per the Daily Penalties (Environmen­t) Regulation­s, continue to accrue on a daily basis until the illegaliti­es are removed or are otherwise regularize­d.”

Questions were also sent to the Malta Police Force. A spokespers­on explained that one charge was issued regarding illegal dumping in 2017. “The police carry out daily inspection­s with regards to sites where illegal dumping was reported to the police, to the ERA or to the cleansing department.”

“The Administra­tive Law Enforcemen­t police lately have been carrying out daily inspection­s at the Natura 2000 area in Pembroke, where several reports of illegal dumping were received. Frequent inspection­s are also being carried out by the ERA.”

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