Majorca will be running off natural gas piped from the mainland by 2005 and central government has agreed to incorporate the plan and the costs in the state energy plan. The green light for the project ends a 13-year debacle over fuelling for Majorca in the future. However, residents in the Palma surburb of Coll den Rebassa are up in arms because they suspect that this will be the point where the pipe will come ashore. Balearic President Francesc Antich said yesterday that Madrid has “reached the same conclusion as the Balearics, that the gas link is the best and most economical solution.” Antich said providing the project can be developed within the initial time frame, gas will be pumped in to the Balearics from Valenica, via Ibiza, by 2005. Natural gas supplies for Minorca will be transported by ship as the island's limited demand does not warrant extending the pipe past Majorca. The cost of the entire project has been estimated at 236 million euros (39.300 million pesetas), which according to Antich and the Balearic Minister for Energy, Prima Villalonga, will be met by central government. Both Antich and Villalonga, who met the Secretary of State for Finance José Folgado, said they are satisfied with Madrid's decision adding that Folgado was impressed by the Balearics' “electric and gas transport development plan 2002-2011.” The final draft of project, which will go before a sub-committee charged with following the project's development, also includes the gas link between Ibiza, Majorca and the Sant Juan de Dios power plant in Coll den Rebassa. But, while the Balearic government repeated its claims yesterday that there is no other viable alternative, local environmental group GOB fuelled the controversy over the gas plant further. GOB issued an official statement last night saying that the link to Coll den Rebassa “is the worst solution,” suggesting that a gas plant should be built at the Dique del Oeste in Palma harbour.


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