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Italian House approves controversial gas pipeline project

M5S refused to vote over environment concerns

05 December, 18:28
Italian House approves controversial gas pipeline project (ANSA) - Rome, December 5 - Italy's Lower House formally approved a controversial gas pipeline project with Albania and Greece by a vote of 284 in favour to 42 opposed on Thursday.

Two members abstained while representatives from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) refused to vote at all on the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) accord.

One day earlier, M5S members staged a sit-in by occupying the seats served for government ministers in the House to protest the pipeline project. The 800-km pipeline, slated for construction in 2015, will carry natural gas from the Caspian Sea across Turkey, Greece and Albania, then through the Adriatic to Italy, where it will deliver over 350 billion cubic feet of natural gas to Europe upon its planned completion in 2019.

Italy, Albania and Greece signed an agreement on the deal in February.

Opponents in Italy worry the pipeline construction will damage pristine land and pose an environmental hazard.

The pipeline project is jointly owned by the Swiss company Axpo with a 42.5% share; Norway's Statoil, controlled by the State, holds an equivalent stake; and German holding company E.ON Ruhrgas owns the final 15%.