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You are here: Home / The European environment – state and outlook 2010 / Country assessments / Malta / Country profile - Drivers and impacts (Malta)

Country profile - Drivers and impacts (Malta)

SOER Country profile from Malta - Drivers and Impacts
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

Demography and land use

At the end of 2008, Malta’s population was estimated to have reached 413 609, up by 2.6 % since 2004, higher than the EU-27 average population increase of 1.8 % for that period. Malta remains the most densely populated EU Member State,8 with an average of 1 309 persons per km2 in 2008,9 increasing by 9.08 % or 109 persons per square kilometre (km2) between 1995 and 2005.10 The continued movement of population from older urban areas around the main harbour into newer coastal settlements is a matter of concern as it represents inefficient use of land and dwellings (Map 2). This has also had the effect of habitat fragmentation in certain areas.

 

Population Density Change

 

Source: NSO (National Statistics Office). 2007. Census of Population and Housing

2005, Volume 1: Population, NSO, Valletta

Map 2: Population density change 1995-2005

Note: Due to changes in locality boundaries of certain councils in the intercensal period (particularly at Rabat and St.

Paul’s Bay), densities for 1995 and 2005 are not directly comparable in these regions.

 

Housing

The housing industry is responsible for a sizeable share of construction activity, and trends in housing permissions (Chart 1) provide a snapshot of the pressures on land from construction. New dwelling permissions amounted to 6 836 in 2008, decreasing by 40 % between 2007 and 2008, most likely reflecting the economic climate. Nonetheless, the amount of housing permissions granted still heavily exceeds the annual increase in need of new dwellings, which may be estimated at 2 000 dwelling units per annum.11 In parallel with these trends, the number of vacant homes in the islands has continued to rise. Vacant dwellings amounted to 27.6 % of total stock in 2005: a 49 % increase over 1995 figures.12 Permanently vacant dwellings (22.4 % of total stock) increased by 89 % (20 352) in this period.

 

Permissions for dwelling units and applications

Chart 1: Permissions for dwelling units and applications[1]


[1]               Housing permissions exceed total application in 2004-2007 due to the increasing trend for development applications to involve multiple dwelling units.

 

Tourism

Tourism is an important economic sector, but it places significant pressures on the environment due to additional consumption of resources (and related waste generation and transportation demand) and land take-up. Between 2004 and 2008, the annual average increase in tourist volumes was 3.44 %, accompanied by an annual average increase of 5.48 % in guest nights14 (Chart 2). In 2009, mainly due to the economic and financial crisis, tourism performance in terms of volume declined by 8.35 % compared to 2008, with a decline of 13.8 % over the corresponding period in 2008.15 Whilst tourism is by its very nature seasonal, Malta’s tourism industry is a year-round operation. The uneven distribution of tourists throughout the year remains a challenge as it subjects the environment and environmental infrastructure to high pressures in summer: during the period 2004-2008, the number of daily tourists in August increased by 4.9 %.16 At the same time, the less popular months allow some breathing space for the environmental resources.

 

Average daily number of tourists

 

 Chart 2: Average daily number of tourists

 

Energy

The inland consumption of fossil fuel provides an indication of fuel use and changing energy demand. Energy generation and transport are the principal consumers of primary energy in the form of fuels.

 

Between 2004 and 2008, fuel released for inland consumption increased by 14 %. The shift to lower-sulphur fuels was made in 2004, and leaded petrol was phased out in January 2003. In 2008, 68 % of fuels17 released for inland consumption went to electricity generation, six % more than in 2004.18 After a decade of overall growth, electricity generation decreased by almost 1 % between 2007 and 2008.

 

The nationwide introduction of smart meters will help raise awareness about electricity and water consumption whilst the higher water and electricity tariffs should encourage the better use of electricity and water to reflect real costs.

 

The promotion of energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy technologies is an integral and ongoing part of the national energy policy. 19

 

Electricity generation

 Chart 1.5: Electricity generation

 

Transport

Malta’s continued rise in vehicle numbers is a matter of concern due to the environmental and social impacts of private motor vehicle use. Registered motor vehicles reached 294 658 in 2008,20 increasing by 2.6 % between 2007 and 2008, and 8.7 % between 2004 and 2008. The high percentage of imports of older and more polluting second-hand vehicles is also of concern. The renewal of Malta’s car fleet with smaller and more efficient vehicles is urgently required and there is a need to make public transport alternatives at least as reliable and attractive as private car use.

 

Notwithstanding very high taxes on motor car purchases, motor vehicle numbers have continued to rise with registered motor vehicles reaching 294 658 in 2008,21 increasing by 2.6 % between 2007 and 2008. In 2009 the vehicle registration taxes were updated to include emission levels.  Developments are also under way towards making public transport alternatives as reliable and attractive as private car use, which should result in decreasing levels of low level pollutants and particulate matter.

 

More stringent fuel quality requirements for vessels in local ports came into force during the year and reduced emissions of SOx and particulate matter from ships are expected. However as global economic activity increases, Malta is likely to suffer increased pollution effects from passing maritime traffic.

 

Agriculture

 

Although it is small in terms of employment and contribution to GDP, the agriculture sector is a major environmental player. Agricultural practices may have serious impacts in terms of pollution, over-abstraction of groundwater, and introduction of alien species, on the countryside. However, good farming practices can positively influence countryside and landscape quality and sustain key environmental resources such as biodiversity, soil and water.

 

8 http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/eurostat/home/, accessed 28th May 2009.

http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/eurostat/home/, accessed 28th May 2009.

9 NSO (National Statistics Office). 2009. Demographic Review 2008, NSO, Valletta.(http://nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2550, accessed on 10th August 2009).

NSO (National Statistics Office). 2009. Demographic Review 2008, NSO, Valletta.(http://nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2550, accessed on 10th August 2009).

10 NSO (National Statistics Office). 2007. Census of Population and Housing 2005, Volume 1: Population,NSO, Valletta.

NSO (National Statistics Office). 2007. Census of Population and Housing 2005, Volume 1: Population,NSO, Valletta.

11 PA (Planning Authority). 2001. Demography Topic Paper, Final Draft May 2001, PA, Floriana. This estimate has lately been further substantiated by the fact that between the 1995 and the 2005 Census, the number of households grew by 17 percent or 20,000 households. See NSO (National Statistics Office). 2007. Census of Population and Housing 2005, Volume 1: Population, NSO, Valletta. http://nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2048, accessed on 4th November 2009).

PA (Planning Authority). 2001. Demography Topic Paper, Final Draft May 2001, PA, Floriana. This estimate has lately been further substantiated by the fact that between the 1995 and the 2005 Census, the number of households grew by 17 percent or 20,000 households. See NSO (National Statistics Office). 2007. Census of Population and Housing 2005, Volume 1: Population, NSO, Valletta. http://nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2048, accessed on 4th November 2009).

12 NSO (National Statistics Office). 2007. Census of Population and Housing 2005, Volume 2: Dwellings, NSO, Valletta. (http://nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2096, accessed on 4th November 2009).

NSO (National Statistics Office). 2007. Census of Population and Housing 2005, Volume 2: Dwellings, NSO, Valletta. (http://nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2096, accessed on 4th November 2009).

13 Housing permissions exceed total application in 2004-2007 due to the increasing trend for development applications to involve multiple dwelling units.

Housing permissions exceed total application in 2004-2007 due to the increasing trend for development applications to involve multiple dwelling units.

14 NSO (National Statistics Office). 2009. Departing tourists: December 2008, News Release No. 015/2009, 27 January 2009. (http://www.nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2413, accessed on 4th February 2009).

NSO (National Statistics Office). 2009. Departing tourists: December 2008, News Release No. 015/2009, 27 January 2009. (http://www.nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2413, accessed on 4th February 2009).

15 NSO (National Statistics Office). 2009. Departing tourists: June 2009, News Release No. 132/2009, 30 July 2009.  http://nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2548, accessed on 10th August 2009).

NSO (National Statistics Office). 2009. Departing tourists: June 2009, News Release No. 132/2009, 30 July 2009.  http://nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2548, accessed on 10th August 2009).

16 NSO.

NSO.

17 Gas oil and fuel oil.

Gas oil and fuel oil.

18 NSO.

NSO.

19 NSO (National Statistics Office). 2009. Motor Vehicles: Q4/2008, News Release No. 016/2009, 28 January 2009. (http://www.nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2414, accessed on 2nd February 2009).

NSO (National Statistics Office). 2009. Motor Vehicles: Q4/2008, News Release No. 016/2009, 28 January 2009. (http://www.nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2414, accessed on 2nd February 2009).

20 NSO (National Statistics Office). 2009. Motor Vehicles: Q4/2008, News Release No. 016/2009, 28 January 2009. (http://www.nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2414, accessed on 2nd February 2009).

NSO (National Statistics Office). 2009. Motor Vehicles: Q4/2008, News Release No. 016/2009, 28 January 2009. (http://www.nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2414, accessed on 2nd February 2009).

21 NSO (National Statistics Office). 2009. Motor Vehicles: Q4/2008, News Release No. 016/2009, 28 January 2009. (http://www.nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2414, accessed on 2nd February 2009).

NSO (National Statistics Office). 2009. Motor Vehicles: Q4/2008, News Release No. 016/2009, 28 January 2009. (http://www.nso.gov.mt/statdoc/document_file.aspx?id=2414, accessed on 2nd February 2009).

 

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