Addolorata and tal-Barrani road works will see loss of 14,589 sqm of agricultural land

210 Mediterranean cypress trees and seven carob trees are expected to be permanently lost as a result of two road widening projects in the Addolotara area 

Agricultural land in vicinity of cemetery car park which will be lost.
Agricultural land in vicinity of cemetery car park which will be lost.

The Environment and Resources Authority has confirmed the loss of nearly 15,000 sq.m of agricultural and undeveloped land as a result of two road widening projects in the Addolorata area between Poala and Santa Lucija and in the Tal-Barrani area.

This will include 6989 sq.m of agricultural land as a result of road widening of Vjal Santa Lucija and the loss of 3500 sq.m of landscaped areas along Tal-Barrani. The proposal will also result in the uprooting of 547 trees which will be compensated by new trees.  A large number of trees will be replanted but 210 Mediterranean cypress trees and seven carob trees are expected to be permanently lost.

Furthermore the proposed road widening at Triq Hal-Luqa in Santa Lucija and Paola will also take up 4,100 sq.m of agricultural land.

The  ERA screening report on the project warns that the impact is accentuated by the topography of Wied il-Horr located to the west of Vjal Santa Luċija , due to terraced nature of the agricultural land to be taken up, and the “steep topography of the area”.

The ERA report exempts the Transport Malta’s projects from a full Environment Impact Assesment simply because any further  studies will  not “significantly help resolve the underlying considerations”.  According to ERA these impacts were “evident upfront” and cannot be in any way mitigated.  But a noise study is required to help devise mitigation measures  like noise barrier when these are required.

The loss of substantial amounts of natural land and trees is likely to have a negative impact on the amount of rainwater reaching the aquifer.

But this impact is minimised through investment in the stormwater infrastructure and the upgrading of water reservoirs as well as compensatory planting to make up for the loss of any trees.

Agricultural land  along Triq Sant Lucija  which will be lost
Agricultural land along Triq Sant Lucija which will be lost

The proposal will also have an impact on the visual setting of the Addolorata Cemetery due to the loss of trees.  The  existing agricultural land buffering the cemetery will be reduced, “thus taking the urban area closer to the Cemetery, as well as reduce the vegetation cover along the urban fringe”. This will have an impact on the setting of the Cemetery as viewed from the north, east and southeast.

Currently, the existing road (Triq Tal-Barrani and Vjal Santa Lucija) consists of a dual carriageway of two northbound and two southbound lanes separated by a central reserve. The proposal intends to reduce traffic congestion during peak traffic hours and improve traffic flows through the introduction of an underpass and associated road widening at the Triq Santa Lucija / Tarxien roundabout. This will involve around 1km stretch of road network. The existing roundabout and surface roads are also being proposed to be re-designed to assure that vehicles re-align with the main flow of traffic from the underpass through the proposed diverging/merging lanes.

The main components of the project consist of a  dual-lane underpass (from Triq tal- Barrani along Triq Santa Lucija and  the  widening of Vjal Santa Lucija on the western side of the existing carriageway.  The proposal also envisages the widening of Triq Tal-Barrani towards the south-west of the existing carriageway.

The widening at Triq Hal-Luqa will  convert the present road to a standard double carriageway with 3.25m lanes in each direction.

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