Balzan residents and environmentalists were given a rude awakening this morning when they found two mature trees in Valley Road in Balzan being shorn and uprooted. A number of Balzan residents had been in the process of checking the legality of the announced trees removal and had organised an event to raise awareness. However, workers showed up Thursday morning just mere days after the removal was announced in a swift turnaround that left the residents aghast.
“We’re devastated. Those trees belong on Balzan Valley Road. They’ve been there longer than us. They are a part of the village. Yes, we want good roads but no, we don’t want to sacrifice our shade, greenery and the environment we love for that to be achieved. The two are not mutually exclusive. So many other solutions could have been considered but weren’t,” said one Balzan resident to Lovin Malta.
The residents said there had been no consultation process before the decision to uproot these two trees was taken. Beyond that, only very basic plans had been seen by the Balzan Council and the resident.
“There are worries that this road is going to become a major thoroughfare between Attard and Birkirkara. This is not what we have in mind for the future of Balzan, which is threatening its status as one of the historic Three Villages,” another resident said.
While one tree is said to be set for a patch of soil in Balzan, and the fate of the second tree, if it survives, remains unknown, many environmentalists fear that the trees will be turned into trash and not be replanted.
This latest removal comes amid a chopping frenzy that, among other cases, could see hundreds of mature trees removed from a main road leading to Rabat.
Photos: Letta Shtohryn
The trees removal comes a day after a historic wall nearby was taken down without prior warning
“Just yesterday contractors demolished the wall around the Big Ben car park – and there doesn’t seem to be any permit in place for this to happen. There have also been no precautions taken for resident safety, and the bus stop is gone with no replacement put in place. Balzan has so few public green spaces left, and these trees provide vital greenery in the area. Their loss should not have been taken lightly, and a plan should have been put in place to ensure their incorporation into the development, not their exclusion from it,” a resident said.
The historic wall in past times
Professor Maria Attard, Director of the Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development at the University of Malta, added: “If this road is to become a principal road, this will increase traffic, speed, risks, noise and pollution. The few green spots (the trees) along that street should be used to reduce the impact, not removed!”
The removal is part of a government plan to redo the entire road at a cost of more than €1.5 million. The works will continue until September, and will feature up to 1.2 kilometres of new pavement.
Minister for Infrastructure Ian Borg announced this plan while calling the road “one of the worst roads in Malta”. He said that while the road is under the remit of the local council, the government had stepped in to help as the cost of the roadworks will come to about five times the annual budget of the council.