Planning application for Mrieħel flyover presented in November

Formal planning application for Mrieħel flyover presented in November, before farmers in the area were informed of expropriation plans

A formal planning application for major roadworks on the Mrieħel bypass was presented in the first week of November, well before farmers in the area were even informed of the expropriation of their land for a flyover. But the details of the application are still missing.

The extent of the application (PA 8050/20) can be seen on the PA’s geoserver, which coincide with the area identified for the expropriation of farmers’ land along the bypass.

A notification sent to farmers in November 2020 referred to “the upgrading of the arterial road, including a proposed underpass and a grade-separated junction”.

The only details available so far are the extent covered by the application, a 2km stretch that includes the Royal Malta Artillery Avenue between the Mdina Road junction, and the industrial estate.

Although the application has been given a number and its extent can be seen on the PA’s geoserver, plans and details of the application are still unavailable. The reason given is that “the application has not yet been fully submitted” and that “once the application is considered complete, all relevant details will be made available online”.

But whenever a planning application is presented, applicants are bound to present plans and other details.

Infrastructure Malta had reacted to protests by farmers and Moviment Graffitti by saying that this junction safety upgrade in the Mrieħel Bypass was still in its initial planning stages, and that there was no attempt to implement it by stealth.

Reacting to criticism by former PL leader Alfred Sant and former President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, transport minister Ian Borg defended the proposal to build the new flyover and said that those who had criticised it hadn't seen the plans and weren't informed. 

Borg had also invited the public to wait for the plans to come out before commenting on the project. “Let’s wait for the plans to come out. Infrastructure Malta will respond to this question with more accuracy and details.”

Borg even contradicted claims that farmers were not consulted, citing meetings held with the Infrastructure Malta CEO Fredrick Attard. MaltaToday has seen a letter in which it was the farmers who had actually asked for these meetings, after receiving a notification from the Planning Authority.

IM says the flyover will allow westbound traffic to enter Mrieħel without having to cross eastbound lanes of the bypass, as is currently the case. 

It was in May 2019, when Ian Borg was planning minister, that the Planning Authority took the unprecedented step to restrict public access to the details of planning applications deemed to be ‘not complete’, purging its information system of applications deemed to be incomplete and which had yet to be validated by the authority.

But in October a spokesperson for the PA acknowledged the fact that applications requiring screening before validation, may also lead up to the requirement of an EIA, therefore meriting such documents to be made public during this “pre assessment stage”.

This led to the publication of a number of applications which had been shrouded in secrecy. But in this case the details of the applications have been missing since November.

READ ALSO: Mriehel road works to take up 15,000sq.m of agricultural land