Hundreds of trees earmarked for uprooting as part of the Central Link road upgrade project will be spared pending the outcome of appeal against the project.
Environment Minister Jose Herrera confirmed with Times of Malta that permits for the uprooting of trees alongside the stretch of road have been suspended.
“While the ministry wants to re-affirm its position that it considers this project of national importance, one cannot ignore there are ongoing appeals to be decided by the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal and, hence, it does not want to prejudice the outcome of this process,” he said.
A group of environmental NGOs and residents last week filed an appeal against the project, warning that its approval by the Planning Authority involved the “flagrant abuse of the planning system.
In its appeal, the NGOs and residents warned that the project, which will connect the Mrieħel bypass with the foot of Saqqajja Hill, will involve the take-up of nearly 50,000 square metres of agricultural land, the uprooting of hundreds of trees and the demolition of vernacular buildings of heritage value.
They also requested the suspension of all works on site during the processing of their appeal.
Infrastructure Malta has confirmed that 254 trees will be destroyed and 185 transplanted as part of the project but has pledged to compensate for this loss by planting 539 indigenous trees within the area.