22 June 2013

Din l-Art Helwa has submitted comments to MEPA as part of the ongoing EIA Scoping on the conversion to gas of the Delimara power station. Din l-Art Helwa is in favour of operating the Delimara power station using gas instead of heavy fuel oil, due to the better environmental performance of gas.

Din l-Art Helwa notes that the importation of gas to Delimara is possible through two alternative options, that is, either through a natural gas pipeline or by constructing onshore/floating facilities for the importation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by ship.

Din l-Art Helwa states that both these alternatives should be assessed as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), to ascertain that all options have been considered thoroughly and that the best long-term choices are made, with all the relevant environmental information made available to the public.

Din l-Art Helwa is requesting confirmation that it will still be possible to obtain EU funding for a gas pipeline if onshore/floating LNG facilities are constructed.

Din l-Art Helwa notes that the construction of large onshore/floating LNG facilities may result in more energy being generated onshore, instead of being imported to Malta through the interconnector. The organisation asks whether this may imply overall higher emissions from the local energy sector than envisaged in the current National Energy Policy, which relies heavily on the interconnector and includes a gas pipeline. The overall impact on emissions of the two alternative scenarios should be assessed in the EIA.

Malta’s National Energy Policy of 2012 was subject to a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). If significant modifications are made to this Policy, it should first be updated and screened for an SEA, before the EIA is completed.

Din l-Art Helwa notes that the gas pipeline infrastructure may have less intense environmental impacts in Marsaxlokk than the onshore/floating LNG facilities. The land and marine impacts of both alternatives must be assessed in detail, including visual impact, the construction of a new jetty, dredging works, land reclamation, and the relocation of the Has-Saptan refuelling dolphin.

Din l-Art Helwa has also requested that a Social Impact Assessment and a Cost Benefit Analysis are carried out in the overall environmental assessment of this application, as was the case for the new Delimara extension.

Din l-Art Helwa’s response to the EIA Scoping can be viewed on the organisation’s website