Prime Minister Joseph Muscat played down environmental concerns over the Central Link road upgrade, pledging that the final project will see a net total of 220 trees added to the area.
“I was concerned myself when I heard that many trees will be uprooted, but I was provided information that many trees will be saved and relocated,” Muscat said in an interview on ONE Radio this morning. “At the end of this project, there will be 220 more trees in the area than there are today. If people want to say there will be fewer trees, then I cannot stop them, but this is the reality.”
The Central Link project between Attard and Rabat, which was approved by the Planning Authority this week, proposes the uprooting of 549 trees, 272 of which are protected, and the planting of 766 more trees along the route to compensate.
However, a further 237 trees are set to be replanted and recent evidence suggests that their odds of survival are slim.
Muscat argued that the project is necessary to clamp down on traffic congestion in the area.
“Residents of Attard and Balzan have been complaining for years about people driving through their villages to try and avoid traffic on the main roads,” he said. “I don’t expect thank yous but we’ll keep doing our job.”
“This project has been planned since 2006 but previous governments just left the plans on paper. The irony is that people from the PN who didn’t speak out back then are speaking out now, but when you compare the 2006 plans to the current plans, you will notice that we are losing 60% less agricultural land.”
“We are dong the best we can in these circumstances.”