Updated | Gozo tunnel studies to be published along with permit application, ministry says

The government reiterated that it had a mandate for the project while stressing that any work carried out in relation to the tunnel was in line with the respective regulations

All the finds of the Gozo-tunnel studies will be published in the coming months
All the finds of the Gozo-tunnel studies will be published in the coming months

Studies on the proposed tunnel linking Malta and Gozo will be published in the coming months, once the necessary permits are applied for with the Planning Authority, the Infrastructure Ministry said.  

“All the required studies, including technical, economic and environmental studies, have been carried out or are being finalised by independent experts approved by the respective authorities and will be published as part of the process for the granting of the permits required for digging to start,” read a ministry statement.

In a statement it said that an Environment Impact Assessment, which was started in the middle of last year, should be finalised in the coming months. It also said a cost-benefit analysis and Social Impact Assessment had been carried out.

"At the end of the day, these studies will be the basis on which the final public consultation will be launched. Depending on the results of these studies, the authorities will take a final decision on this infrastructural investment," the ministry said.

READ MORE: Publish studies on Gozo tunnel alternatives, Church urges government

It reiterated that the government had a mandate for the tunnel and that there was agreement with the Opposition that it should be developed. The permanent connection, it said, would be essential for Gozitan families “to enjoy a better quality of life”.

Referring to “concerns raised by a number of entities”, the ministry noted that the project had been planned for years now. "The development has been in the pipeline for years...the development of permanent connection between Malta and Gozo is ultimately essential to Gozitan families who have been suffering for a long time."

NGOs insist for more studies hoping project never starts - developers’ group

Malta’s developers’ lobby said that, while it was satisfied that the results of studies on the proposed tunnel shine a good light on the project, it disagreed with NGOs’ insistence for further studies, which it said were intended to prevent the project from ever taking off.

In a statement on Friday, the Malta Developers’ Association reiterated that it agreed with the building of a permanent connection between Malta and Gozo.

“The MDA believes that specific studies on a number of aspects of the project have been undertaken or are being carried out - something that is normal when a project of such a magnitude is undertaken. MDA is satisfied that results of studies that have been concluded indicate positive assessments that lead to the approval of the project,” the association said.

It went on to note, however, “that some NGOs and other entities who are opposing the project are continually insisting for further studies in the hope that these studies will lead to the abandonment of the project.”

“Studies on proposed projects should not be intended “a priori” to lead to negative assessments, as those opposing the project seem to think. MDA completely disagrees with those asking for more studies, so that the proposal is never undertaken,” it underscored.

“This project is the only way for Gozo’s economy to be fully integrated into the national economy and so that there will no longer be differences in the living standards between the two islands,” MDA added.

More in National