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