Gozo ferries road awaiting environmental studies

A final decision on the controversial link between the Mgarr harbour to Triq Lourdes in Ghajnsielem will only be taken following the evaluation of its environmental impact

The proposed link between the Mgarr harbour to Triq Lourdes in Ghajnsielem cuts across the hillside gardens beneath Fort Chambray, taking up some 8,000sq.m of agricultural land, woodland and dense vegetation
The proposed link between the Mgarr harbour to Triq Lourdes in Ghajnsielem cuts across the hillside gardens beneath Fort Chambray, taking up some 8,000sq.m of agricultural land, woodland and dense vegetation

A proposed roads project entrusted to a firm owned by architect and Labour Party organising secretary William Lewis, is still awaiting the Environment and Resources Authority’s assessment and geological studies.

A final decision on the controversial link between the Mgarr harbour to Triq Lourdes in Ghajnsielem will only be taken following the evaluation of its environmental impact, Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri told parliament in reply to questions by Chris Said.

Details on the application were removed from the PA’s website following a decision taken last year to stop the public from assessing “incomplete” applications.

The first plans of the project presented in April 2019 showed the new road cutting across the hillside gardens beneath Fort Chambray, taking up some 8,000sq.m of agricultural land, woodland and dense vegetation.

The afforested hillside covers an area of 45,000sq.m, which in recent years was planted with 2,300 trees and shrubs. Apart from their aesthetic importance, the gardens help prevent soil erosion.

Plans show the proposed road passing right through designated woodland and “dense vegetation”, but the trees in this part of the project are not identified.

Further uphill, 22 pine trees (mainly along Triq Lourdes), 12 eucalyptus trees, seven fig trees and one prune tree have been identified for uprooting.

Further loss of agricultural land is envisaged in the rest of the project, which will also entail the demolition of the Gozo Channel buildings near the car park. The project foresees the planting of 18 oak trees in the vicinity of the parking area leading to the harbour, 20 eucalyptus trees and 11 pine trees.

Camilleri also told parliament that geological studies related to the project would only commence following ERA consultations.

Last year a spokesperson for former Gozo minister Justyne Caruana defended the new plans, insisting that the Labour manifesto specifically pledged an alternative road to and from the port.

Labour’s manifesto, in fact, commits the government to “study in detail” an alternative road from Mgarr “with great sensitivity to the environment”.

“This project intends to improve and ease the traffic flow to and from Gozo’s only designated port which at the moment is serviced by a narrow road,” the ministry had said, claiming that the project was designed to minimise the impact on the environment.

“The Ministry for Gozo will compensate for this project since it is already planning other afforestation projects around the island in areas designated for this scope.”

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