15 NGOs file appeal against 'flagrant abuse' in granting of Central Link permit

The group of NGOs and residents are insisting that work on the projec shouldn't start until the appeal has been decided 

The Central Link project was approved by the Planning Authority last month
The Central Link project was approved by the Planning Authority last month

A group of 15 environmental NGOs and residents yesterday filed an appeal against the controversial Central Link project which was approved by the Planning Authority last month.

The €55 million project is intended to reduce congestion along the route between the Mriehel bypass and the Saqqajja hill roundabout, which connects Ta’ Qali, Attard, Rabat, Zebbug and Mosta.

The government has argued that the project would reduce travel times as well as car emissions in the area, however a number of NGOs and residents have insisted that the environmental impact is too great.

The new road is expected to take up nearly 50,000sq.m of agricultural land and will see the uprooting of several hundred trees, as well as the demolition of vernacular buildings of heritage value.

The NGOs also filed a request for the suspension of any works on the site because “breaches of planning laws, policies and the potential irreversible damage to Grade 1 Scheduled monuments, heritage buildings, principles of sustainability and the long-term detrimental effect on public health and safety were completely ignored”.

“Consultees gave their supposedly expert opinion on outdated plans, the Environmental Impact Assessment is rife with inaccuracies, contradictions and misleading statements,” the NGOs said.

“The Planning Board made its decision on the basis of documentation which is unseen and unpublished and objectors were dismissed so that this application could be railroaded for permission.”

The NGOs said that Infrastructure Malta had a “track record of commencing works without the necessary permits, citing urgency or other constraints”.

“This this effectively circumvents all legal parametrs and scrutiny and makes it close to impossible for objectors and appellants to obtain any sort of remedy. If buildings are already demolished and agricultural land excavated and trees uprooted, apepals can become expensive exercises in futility,” they said.

Infrastructural Malta, they insisted, should not be permitted to “exercise untrammelled power unbound by the laws which regulate everybody else”.

The NGOs said that their appeal was intended to safeguard residents’ health and for sustainability and the environment. “But mostly, one against the flagrant abuse of the planning system.”

The appeal was filed by:

Bicycle Advocacy Group, Din l-Art Helwa, Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Friend of the Earth Malta, Ramblers’ Association of Malta, Green House, Moviment Graffitti, Malta Youth in Agriculture Foundation, Ralph Cassar, Malcolm Vella Haber, Edward Mallia, Stephen Pace, Cristino Antonio Scerri, Adrian Mallia, John Camilleri

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