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Valletta’s Grand Harbour Is Going Green With New ‘Clean Air Project’

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The Grand Harbour will be receiving an overhaul intended to improve air quality and reduce emissions from ships in the harbour.

The €50 million investment project will be split into several phases, the first of which is expected to be completed by 2023.

The project, launched by Infrastructure Malta, was announced today by Minster for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg and Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi.

Once completed, it will become one of the first European Ports to include environment technology – specifically cold ironing and shore side electricity. Currently, similar projects have also either been finished or are underway in the ports of Hamburg (Germany), Limassol (Cyprus) and Killini (Greece).

“With this investment we will continue to show our commitment and further realise our clear vision, that of offering the best possible quality of life to the people in terms of greater sustainability, cleaner air, as well as more economic growth,” Ian Borg said.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Wonnacott

Photo Credit: Jeremy Wonnacott

He went on to state that Malta will be “eliminating a number of respiratory diseases and other health problems through drastic reductions in air emissions. We will be reducing, by more than 90%, the air pollution from ships while moored in the Grand Harbour”.

It is estimated that each passenger ship that comes to Grand Harbour spends around eight hours moored, which is thought to release as much “as 300,000 cars driving at once from Ċirkewwa to Marsaxlokk” in emissions.

Throughout the first phase of the project, the five main wharfs that passenger ships use (Pinto Wharf in Floriana, Deep Water Quay in Marsa and Boiler Wharf in Senglea) will be equipped with the cold ironing and shore side electricity system. This will allow ships to immediately turn off their engines and connect to the electrical system the moment they have arrived in the harbour.

Infrastructure Malta also confirmed that €21.9 million for the first phase was funded by the EU as part of the Connecting Europe Facility.

Such systems are also planned to be extended to Xatt il-Laboratorju and Ras Ħanżir in Paola. Meanwhile, preparations are also underway to install a similar system for the Malta Freeport as well.

Zrinzo Azzopardi went on to highlight that the preparations for the Freeport project will focus “specifically [on] the people living in Birżebbuġa and Marsaxlokk who deserve to enjoy cleaner air” as they are most negatively impacted by emissions in that area.

The Grand Harbour Clean Air Project is projected to reduce 93% nitrogen dioxide, 92.6% particle matter, 99.6% sulphur dioxide and overall, reduce carbon dioxide emissions caused by climate change by 39.6%.

The first phase of the project – the work of which started in mid-November – comes in light of a report by the European Environment Agency detailing that whilst air quality in Europe had improved in the past decade, almost all Europeans still suffer from air pollution. This same exposure to air pollution is also said to be the cause of around 400,000 premature deaths in Europe per year.

Air pollution is declared by both the European Commission and European Environment Agency as being the single largest environmental health risk faced by Europeans.

How do you feel about this project? Comment below!

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