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No permit for San Anton country road upgrade

Countryside path leading from Bidnija to the San Anton and San Andrea schools has been 'upgraded', however no reply was given when asked if the works were covered by a planning permit

james
James Debono
21 September 2017, 10:24am
The only pending application is that for 'road widening at Triq tal-Imselliet'
The only pending application is that for 'road widening at Triq tal-Imselliet'
A countryside path leading from Bidnija to the San Anton and San Andrea schools has recently been ‘upgraded’ with concrete in the absence of any planning permit, in a bid by Transport Malta to facilitate access to the schools.

MaltaToday asked Transport Malta specifically whether the works were covered by a planning permit but no reply was given on this point. A search on the Planning Authority’s website confirms the works are neither covered by a planning permit nor with a Development Notification, a procedure used for minor developments.

The only pending application in the area by Transport Malta is that for “road widening at Triq tal-Imselliet,” but the application is still at a preliminary stage and does not even have a planning number.

In the past the Planning Authority has issued enforcement orders against the levelling of country paths with concrete. One such order was issued in 2007 against the Munxar local council for having illegally surfaced a walkway with concrete on the idyllic Tas-Sanap cliffs. But various minor works involving the upgrading of small country paths used by farmers have been carried out in the past without a permit, utilizing EU rural development funds.

Stretching over a distance of about 1.5 kilometres, the schools country path links the Mgarr bypass to the San Andrea and San Anton schools which are only accessible from further up the arterial thoroughfare.

But Transport Malta explained the reasons why the works were undertaken. A spokesperson claimed that “the old lane” is being redeveloped to create another access point for the schools “without encroaching on undisturbed land, rural structures or vegetation” to ensure “a better traffic flow”.

Asked to explain the procedure used to approve these projects TM replied that the project is being implemented through the Authority’s “applicable procurement procedures for similar works”.

He also explained that the road upgrade project is being done “in cooperation with the respective authorities” in a way which strikes  a balance between “maintaining adequate road networks, environment protection and the interests of the community and other stakeholders”.

The area around the two schools has been identified among several areas in need of such improvements to improve traffic flows and increase road safety across the road network. 

The project is being implemented through the Authority's 'applicable procurement procedures for similar works', said Transport Malta
The project is being implemented through the Authority's 'applicable procurement procedures for similar works', said Transport Malta
This is because during morning and early afternoon peaks, as children are taken to and from these two schools, “long queues block the busy road and restrict access to the schools.”

According to TM these projects are being implemented this summer to ease the impacts of increased traffic ahead of the upcoming scholastic year.  

It was environmentalist Alan Deidun, a board member of the Environment and Resources Authority, who raised questions on the works in a Facebook post, claiming that the works “destroyed the rural fabric of this area”. He also questioned the utility of the works claiming that these simply deviated traffic back to Mgarr bypass, thus only shifting the bottleneck by a few hundred metres.

In May the government had announced that it had received applications for the resurfacing of 123 rural roads using EU funds. 37 applications had been submitted by Transport Malta.  

Coincidentally the area enclosed in the country roads upgraded by Transport Malta is being earmarked for an agro tourism project proposed by VEMG Limited.

Set over 142,407 square metres, if approved the agritourism will include 400 sq.m of accommodation facilities, a 200 sq.m winery located at a corner between Triq Ghajn Tuffieha and Trejqa Qanfud, a 50 sq.m olive production facility and a 25 sq.m bee keeping facility. In total this would involve new development of over 675 sq.m.

james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...
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