No timeframe yet for approval of Delimara gas plant’s environmental permit

Final permit to be awarded after public meeting and 30-day public consultation, but Environment and Resources Authority has set no date for approval of project

The power station consists of a massive Floating Storage Unit anchored off Delimara
The power station consists of a massive Floating Storage Unit anchored off Delimara

The Environment and Resources Authority is processing the Integrated Prevention and Pollution Control (IPPC) permit for the operation of the new ElectroGas power station at Delimara, but is not yet in a position to set a timeframe for its approval.

The power station consists of a massive Floating Storage Unit anchored off Delimara, linked to an onshore regasification plant which will operate on liquefied natural gas, considered as a cleaner alternative to heavy fuel oil.

The IPPC will require the presentation of technical documents addressing safety issues.

A spokesperson for ERA confirmed that “the IPPC permit shall be in place prior to commencement of operations” and the authority shall be taking a final decision at a meeting held in public, following the conclusion of the public consultation and a period of discussion with the operators on the permit conditions. 

The ERA spokesperson also confirmed that all the relevant documentation shall be made available for review and comments by the public and following which, ERA shall be taking account of submissions received, “thereby ensuring the accountability and transparency of this decision-making process and contributing to public awareness of environmental issues”.

But a spokesperson for the ERA did not reply to questions on when ERA will commence the 30-day public consultation period and when a final decision is expected to be taken.

In December 2014, when conceding that the new power plant would not be completed, as promised, by March 2015, then Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi had promised Parliament that it would be up and running by June 2016 at the latest. In May the government said that the power plant should be working “in the summer months”.

Installations like power stations and large chemical plants have to obtain an IPPC permit from the Planning Authority to be allowed to operate. The permitting process ensures that these plants make use of the “best available technology in their operations”. 

The IPPC assesses the whole environmental performance of the plant, including matters like emissions into the air, water and land, generation of waste, use of raw materials, energy efficiency, noise, prevention of accidents and risk management.

The processing of an IPPC permit requires the submission of a number of documents according to legislation in this field, primarily the European Union’s Industrial Emissions Directive.

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