Central Link Project EIA is flawed and short-sighted, AD tells Environment Resources Authority

Alternattiva Demokratika said the project would end up creating more traffic in the near future

The north-bound lanes will be further away from residents and more than a storey below residential streets
The north-bound lanes will be further away from residents and more than a storey below residential streets

Alternattiva Demokratika has once again lambasted the Central Link Project over what it claims is a flawed assessment of its environmental impacts.

The party filed a submission with the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) regarding the project's Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) earlier today.

In a statement, AD said that Infrastructure Malta's bid to reduce traffic congestion would end up creating more of it in the near future.

The Central Link Project aims to reduce traffic congestion between Mriehel and Most thus halving travel time once completed. The project will see some four kilometres of road upgraded at a cost of €55 million.

"The [EIA] assumes that vehicles will still be powered by the internal combustion engine by 2045, ignoring the real possibility that zero-emission vehicles will be the norm in the near future,” AD said, adding that “the projections for emissions assumes business as usual."

AD argued that this was counter to the government's own Transport Master Plan, approved in 2016, which aims to implement alternative means of transport.

READ MORE: Alternattiva says government's infrastructure projects will cause further congestion

"The EIA presented by Infrastructure Malta fails to consider the implementation of this objective among the various alternatives that can be used to address traffic congestion. Public transport and the provision of measures such as public transport corridors – one of the policy measures in the Transport Master Plan – is ignored, as are other measures on sustainable transport," reads AD's submission.

It added that during 2018, 53.4 million people had used public transport, an increase of 11.25% over 2017. "It is clear that the public is responding through the uptake of the sustainable transport options being made available. A bus rapid transit system is a policy measure which can be implemented in the short to medium term to further increase patronage of public transport."

AD said that the Central Link Project was counterproductive since the project would push the main Valletta-Rabat public transport service further away from residents, making alternative transport less accessible.

"The lowering of part of the road is assumed to reduce noise pollution on Triq Tumas Chetcuti, Ferdinandu Inglott and Oliver Agius. The EIA does not indicate how lowering the road will reduce noise pollution," AD told the ERA, adding that lowering the road would certainly not reduce air pollution but simply shift it from one place to another.

"The assumptions made in the conclusion that without the Central Link air pollution will increase ten-fold are flawed. The assumption that the internal combustion engine will still power vehicles by 2045 is flawed. Infrastructure Malta’s reliance on road building to solve transport related issues is short-sighted. Induced demand will cancel out any short term gains," AD said.