The tree felling works currently going on in Santa Luċija as part of an underground tunnels project have been approved by the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), but subject to greening conditions.
The project will involve the felling of 293 trees and the transplantation of a further 254, namely olive trees, Indian fig trees and white mulberry trees.
In March, ERA granted Infrastructure Malta a permit to proceed with the felling and transplantation of the trees on condition that it replants 757 new trees at specified sites in the wider region, including in Santa Luċija, Paola, Għaxaq, Tarxien, Marsa, Żejtun, Maraskala, Luqa and Żabbar.
It is unknown whether they will be mature trees or saplings, but ERA’s tree uprooting guidelines require new trees for compensatory planting to be taller than 1m, to have a stem diameter exceeding 5cm and to have a well-balanced branching head.
ERA has also obliged Infrastructure Malta to maintain the 254 transplanted trees for three years, to regular inspect them to administer necessary care, and to replace any which die within that time prior with trees of the same species.
“The conditions imposed shall be adhered to throughout all the activities,” the permit reads. “Failure to do so may result in enforcement action and cessation of any related works or activities.”
ERA had screened the project prior to its approval by the Planning Authority in September 2018. Although it had raised concerns about the tree uprooting, the noise pollution and the extension of the overall road footprint, it ruled that a full environmental impact assessment wasn’t necessary.