[WATCH] We were right all along on Central Link - Transport Minister

Court's decision rejecting appeal against Central Link project vindicates Planning Authority and Infrastructure Malta, Ian Borg says

The Appeals Court decision shows government was right all along to push for the Central Link project, Transport Minister Ian Borg said at a press conference in Attard, as tractors continued their work clearing the way for new roads
The Appeals Court decision shows government was right all along to push for the Central Link project, Transport Minister Ian Borg said at a press conference in Attard, as tractors continued their work clearing the way for new roads
Roads agency boss says they were right all along on Central Link

Today's Appeals Court decision rejecting an NGO bid to block the Central Link project has showed that the Planning Authority and Transport Malta were right all long, Ian Borg said.

The Transport Minister said that the project, which he highlighted had been discussed since the 1960s, when Georg Borg Olivier was prime minister, can now finally be seen to completion.

Borg, who was addressing the press in Attard following the court decision on Wednesday, said there were persons who had an interest in blocking the project, and who had been attempting to do so for decades.

"The project will address bottlenecks from Mrieħel near the MFSA headquarters all the way to Rabat," he said.

"There obviously where those who had an interest to resit the project," he underscored.

Surveys have indicated that the people were behind the government's decisions, he said. "This fills us with courage to continue investing in infrastructure,"  Borg said.

Transport Minister Ian Borg (centre) and Infrastructure Malta CEO Fredrick Azzopardi (centre-right)
Transport Minister Ian Borg (centre) and Infrastructure Malta CEO Fredrick Azzopardi (centre-right)

He added that the PA and Transport Malta had to fight significant opposition to the project. "But we can now continue our work as the permit for the project was confirmed by the Appeals Court," he said, "The court confirmed the PA and Planning Tribunal did things correctly."

Infrastructure Malta CEO justifies decision to start project before court decision

Asked by MaltaToday why work on the project had started before the Appeals Court issued its decision, Infrastructure Malta CEO Fredrick Azzopardi said that the authorities had felt comfortable to commence works since multiple bodies had previously given their go ahead.

In its sentence, the court was critical of the fact that the project had started before it had made its decision on the matter. The court also said that this could give rise to doubts on the courts' own independence.

But Azzopardi defended the decision for works to start, saying that the Appeals Court decision had been the fifth confirmation that the project could go ahead.

He pointed out that, in 2019, the PA had issued the permit for the project, which was subsequently confirmed for funding by the European Commission. The Environment and Planning Review Tribunal had reaffirmed the project, and, last December, a court had also refused a request to temporarily block the project.

Questioned on whether changes to the project would be considered, in light of the fact that the Appeals Court decision had made reference to "environmental sensitivity", Azzopardi said that Infrastructure Malta was open to suggestions on how the project could be improved.

Borg also noted that the plans for the project had already been changed to be more environmentally friendly, underlining that many less trees would now be lost than under the original plans.

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