By the next three years cruise liners entering the Grand Harbour will do so with shut-down engines

On an investment of €50 million, of which €22 million came from the EU, by the next three years all cruise liners entering the Grand Harbour will do so with closed down engines and will be supplied with energy from a project that has been undertaken by Infrastructure Malta. Minister Ian Borg said that as a result, this environmental project will benefit 51% of the people who live around the Grand Harbour.

Minister Borg that as these liners will be using all their energy needs from land this will lead to a reduction of gas emissions and will substantially benefit the population that lives around the Grand Harbour region.

He said a liner spending eight hours in the port pollutes the equivalent of 300,000 vehicles, that is, every vehicle on the island that is driven once from Mellieħa to Marsaxlokk. That is the extent of the pollution and hence this will benefit residents who deserve such consideration but also because the country wishes the arrival of more liners and ships leaving a positive impact. This is a €50 million project, with the first phase requiring €37 million and the remainder over the forthcoming three years.

The Grand Harbour Clean Air Project obtained financial help from the EU Commission after negotiation work carried out by the Secretariat for EU Funds. The EU recognised the need for such a project with Parliamentary Secretary Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi saying the funds allocated to Malta are additional to those accorded to Malta in the recently agreed EU Budget.

He said the project will be cofinanced by the EU with the provision of €21.9 million from the Connecting Europe Facility. This is a substantial sum that will be utilised in important phases of the project and will have a positive effect on the environment through cleaner air by reducing emissions and decreasing noise generation from ships in the harbour as a result of electricity generation from land.

Dr Zrinzo Azzopardi said the same type of project is being prepared by the Government for the Birżebbuġa Freeport so that visiting mercantile vessels will also be able to shut down their engines and this will provide cleaner air for the neighbouring residents.