PN MPs tem­po­rar­ily walk out of Par­lia­ment as Kon­rad Mizzi speaks about LNG tanker and en­ergy is­sues

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Kevin Schem­bri Or­land

PN MPs tem­po­rar­ily walked out of Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day, as En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Jose Her­rera wanted to yield the floor to min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi to ex­plain some tech­ni­cal points re­gard­ing the LNG tanker and the en­ergy sec­tor.

Op­po­si­tion leader Si­mon Busut­til said that the PN wanted the Prime Min­is­ter, as the min­is­ter in charge of the en­ergy sec­tor, to an­swer their ques­tions. Since Min­is­ter Mizzi was go­ing to speak, he an­nounced that the PN does not recog­nise a min­is­ter who has a com­pany in Panama, and the PN MPs walked out tem­po­rar­ily, un­til Min­is­ter Mizzi fin­ished his speech.

Ear­lier En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Jose Her­rera de­liv­ered a min­is­te­rial state­ment about the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Paris Treaty, how­ever this was quickly turned into rapid-fire ques­tions by PN MPs re­gard­ing the LNG gas tanker, pub­lic trans­port and the lo­cal en­ergy sec­tor.

“Ev­ery­one agrees, he said, that cli­mate change is caus­ing prob­lems. Malta did not await the oth­ers, be­ing one of the first to rat­ify it. On the eve of Malta’s EU Pres­i­dency, we wanted to make clear that this is an im­por­tant topic for Malta.”

After EU ap­proval, work is on­go­ing for a gas pipe­line to Si­cily, the min­is­ter said, adding that Malta is work­ing to­wards re­duc­ing emis­sions. “When the EU looks at Malta, when it comes to en­ergy gen­er­a­tion, it brings com­mon in­ter­est,” he said, adding that there are still de­ci­sions to be taken re­gard­ing emis­sion re­duc­tion. “We need to con­tinue in­vest­ing in al­ter­na­tive forms of trans­port, and cleaner trans­port.

“Malta is obliged to hon­our the agree­ment. It was a his­toric mo­ment, and it will bring about new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. Aside from am­bi­tious mea­sures, gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to cre­ate the first low car­bon emis­sion strat­egy for Malta.”

PN MP Marthese Portelli crit­i­cised the Trans­port Min­is­ter for three years say­ing that gov­ern­ment had a plan, and she stressed the need for al­ter­na­tive meth­ods of trans­port.

She men­tioned the LNG tanker at Marsaxlokk and asked – Does the tanker have an IPPC per­mit? This is an in­te­grated pol­lu­tion pre­ven­tion and con­trol per­mit, she ex­plained. “This per­mit is given after authorities are con­vinced that emis­sions and pol­lu­tion is be­ing tack­led. We know the tanker will an­chor, but it still doesn’t have this per­mit. Is the min­is­ter com­fort­able with this tanker go­ing to an­chor with­out a per­mit. Now there is a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion which should have hap­pened be­fore.”

What will hap­pen if the IPPC per­mit is not given?

PN MP Mario de Marco asked the min­is­ter that since the tanker will be tem­po­rary un­til a gas pipe­line is built, “what stage are dis­cus­sions re­gard­ing the pipe­line at and what are the time­frames re­gard­ing con­struc­tion? Did the min­is­ter see the risk as­sess­ment of the gas tanker and can he pub­lish it?”

Min­is­ter Jose Her­rera said, in re­sponse, that the use of gas en­ergy was part of the elec­toral pro­gramme. “One has to look at the pos­si­bil­i­ties etc to reach the man­i­festo’s as­pi­ra­tions. The tanker would not be there per­pet­u­ally. Ide­ally we wouldn’t have a power sta­tion, a tanker, or in­dus­trial zones, and we would have a coun­try full of beaches, flow­ers etc. Sadly this is not a re­gion, this is a coun­try, with a univer­sity, in­dus­trial zones etc. that is why we speak of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment. My po­si­tion is that we do things in a sus­tain­able way.”

Re­gard­ing the per­mits, he said that first one has to have a de­vel­op­ment per­mit, then one looks at the op­er­a­tional as­pect. “The authorities in this re­gard are mov­ing ac­cord­ing to EU laws on this mat­ter. In the com­ing days, the con­sul­ta­tion process will be­gin, and doc­u­ments with re­gards to the De­li­mara sta­tion will be pub­lished. Be­fore the IPPC per­mit is given, con­sul­ta­tion is needed.

“For the con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod, one must pub­lish doc­u­ments. If you don’t pub­lish, you can’t con­sult.”

He stressed that he has great trust in the ERA board and if the Board does not op­er­ate ac­cord­ing to the law, then he would in­ter­fere.

It was at this point that the ar­gu­ment re­gard­ing Min­is­ter Mizzi erupted, and the PN walked out. Min­is­ter Mizzi said that all re­ports, in­clud­ing the mar­itime risk as­sess­ment etc will be pub­lished. He also said that next year, gov­ern­ment will ap­ply for per­mits re­lat­ing to con­struc­tion of the gas pipe­line, both in Malta and Italy.

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