Staff Reporter THE plan to link the Balearic Islands with the Peninsula by means of a gas pipeline and electric cable was approved yesterday by central government. Supplies could be on line by as early as 2007. The link will have its starting point at Oliva in Valencia and will stretch to Ibiza with a further section reaching Majorca. The electric cable connection will link Vandellós in Tarragona on the Peninsula with Majorca. Josep Joan Cardona, Balearic minister for Commerce, Industry and Energy, confirmed yesterday that central government will invest more than 840 million euros in the gas pipeline and electric cable links to the Balearics and will ask the European Union to finance between 10 and 20 percent of the costs. Cardona was explaining the plans to build the pipeline and lay the electric cables that will link the Balearics with the mainland's power distribution network. Both projects were officially approved yesterday by the Council of Ministers in Madrid. Cardona maintained that in total, central government will have to invest more than 840 million euros on both projects, including the infrastructure that will be necessary to convert the gas and electricity supplies into power sources to be used in homes and industry on the Islands. Costs of both projects will be met by funds from the National Electric system. “Citizens of the Balearic Islands won't be paying a single cent for something which is due to us”, the minister asserted. Cardona declared that central government will ask the European Union for some funding for these major works, “between 10 and 20 percent of the overall cost”. The gas pipeline will have its starting point in Valencia and reach Ibiza and Majorca by means of an undersea route, some 50 metres beneath the surface of the water. Such depth will enable the pipeline, 269 kilometres long and 30 centimetres wide, to avoid any clash with marine shipping. The minister explained that on arrival in Ibiza, the pipeline will be linked in with the central plant at Cala Gració in Sant Antoni de Portmany by means of an underground cable. In the case of Majorca, the pipeline will enter through Es Carnatge in the direction of Ca's Tresorer and finally meet up with the central plant at Son Reus. Jaume Sureda, the director general of energy, believes that natural gas is the “best alternative” to propane (currently used by 80'000 people on Majorca), or diesel. He claimed that natural gas is “cleaner, more efficient, and costs less”. The electric cable connecting the Balearics with the mainland, will have its starting point in Tarragona, stretching under the sea to Majorca. Passing through Santa Ponsa, it will be linked to the Son Bugadelles industrial estate where a small complex will be built to “house” the incoming energy, declared the minister. From Majorca, the electric cable will branch out towards the Dique de Botafoc on Ibiza and from there it will eventually be connected to Formentera. “When both projects are completed, the decades-old problem of energy supply in the Balearics will be brought to an end” Cardona said, as there will no longer be a monopoly.