An enforcement notice was issued by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority against an owner of a catering establishment in St Paul’s Bay, where it was alleged that a chimney duct was installed in the property without a planning permit.

In this case, the MEPA had issued a planning permit for catering use in 2007 but it was eventually found that the ventilation system shown in the approved permit drawings was installed in a different location.

The owner lodged an appeal against the enforcement notice before the Environment and Planning Tribunal, asking for the notice’s revocation. In his appeal submissions, it was explained that the chimney stack mentioned in the enforcement notice had in fact been installed for a long time prior to 2007 (when the permit for catering establishment was issued). Appellant thus contended that the chimney was “legal” since it had stood for 30 years.

The Tribunal inspected the property and saw that two ventilation ducts had been installed independently of each other. The Tribunal confirmed that one of the systems was actually shown in the 2007 permit drawings whereas the chimney referred to in the appealed notice was not evident in the drawings. In its assessment, the Tribunal concluded that the enforcement notice was issued correctly and confirmed its validity.

In reaction, the appellant lodged an appeal before the Court of Appeal (Inferior Jurisdiction), stating that the Tribunal ignored the fact that the “illegal” chimney had been in place for 30 years.

Nevertheless, the Court held that it would not enter into such assessment, since it was up to the Tribunal to delve into any evidence gathered in the process. Moreover, the Court referred to the Albert Satariano judgment and observed that an intervention which is not shown in subsequent permits shall be construed as “not covered by a permit”, regardless of its history.