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Updated: Interconnector permit issued

The permit for the interconnector between Malta and Sicily was issued yesterday by the Environment Ministry in Rome, the government said this morning.

It said in a statement that the permit includes the authorisation for connection with interconnectors at Marina di Ragusa and for the placing of 20 kilometre cables underground leading to the Terna Substation in Ragusa.

The government said the permit was issued after the new government resolved a problem relating to the cable’s route which had been passing through the territory of an Italian oil company.

This problem and others, the government said, had not been made divulged by the previous government.

The permit includes a number of conditions which have to be met before the works can start. These are expected to be tackled by Enemalta and Terna before May.

The authorisation, the government said, also refers to the agreement between Enemalta and the province and council of Ragusa for environmental compensation of €500,000 and €600,000, respectively, as agreed by the previous government.

The government said in another statement this evening that the previous government's lack of honesty led to a review of the project's cost and target date. It had already been established that the project cost would cost €26million more than it had actually been estimated.

PN statement

The Nationalist Party welcomed the formal issuance of the permit but denied that it was issued after the new government resolved a problem relating to the cable’s route.

The PN said the cable root issue was resolved by late February after an Enemalta technical team visited the Ministry in Rome. 

It challenged the ministry to publish the relative board minutes of the Corporation that showed that the matter was  resolved prior to the change in government.

In relation to the added project costs of €26 million, the party categorically denied that the Corporation had, at any stage, brought to the attention to the then ministry responsible such alleged added costs.

"The total variation costs approved up to the date of the change in government were of around €10 million.

"The PN challenges the government to publish these so called added costs to establish whether these are factual, in justification of what works or whether these are a worse case scenario estimates that are continuously revised as the project develops”.

The part said the Italian Ministry of Economic Affairs gave the final go-ahead for the electricity interconnector between Sicily and Malta in January. This was reported in The Times of January 27.

"This could only happen after the then Finance Minister Tonio Fenech and senior Enemalta officials carried out several meetings to convince the Ragusa Council to drop its objections to the project, which Council had however requested €600,000 from Malta in compensation for the environmental impact of the project. The Corporation has agreed to pay the requested sum and made this public.

"The interconnector is expected to be commissioned in March next year and the Nationalist Party looks forward to the timely completion of this project," the PN said.

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