The Environment and Resources Authority has approved an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for, among other things, the laying of an underwater gas pipeline between Malta and Sicily.
In a statement this afternoon ERA said it was not objecting to the proposed development, given the EIA’s findings, adding however that this was conditional on the various mitigation measures proposed being “duly incorporated in the mainstream development consent mechanism and mitigated by means of condition and specifications in the development permit”.
A vote on the approval of the EIA was taken at a public meeting earlier today.
The proposal includes the construction of a terminal station at the Delimara power station, a micro-tunnel route through Delimara and the laying of an offshore pipeline up to the median line between Delimara and Gela.
A government company, Melita TransGas Ltd, was set up in 2017 to oversee the project which will see 159km of pipeline laid between Malta and Sicily at a cost of roughly €400 million.
In its statement ERA said that the main points of concern related to the impacts on natural cliffs due to rock cutting from the proposed construction of new access roads, coastal land uptake, visual amenity in relation to the construction of the terminal facility and an impact on the island’s geology due to trenching and dredging works.
“In terms of ecology, the assessment identified impacts on benthic species due to excavation and trenching and installation of pipeline support structures and cable crossing structures,” ERA said.
It also pointed to “impacts on terrestrial protected shrub species from interventions on the cliff face”.
Concerns were also raised about the project’s impact on birds, mainly resulting from light pollution from working vessels and the terminal facility.
“The impact significance of each environmental parameter depends largely on the thorough implementation of pre-emptive safeguards, construction and operational mitigation measures, namely the use of silt curtain and suction dredger, air bubble screens, monitoring during construction, oil spill prevention and response plans; and transplanting and monitoring of benthic assemblages,” ERA said.
What do you make of this proposal?