[WATCH] Minister showcases green fingers with €1m tree-planting project, ahead of national protest

Transport minister berated by environmenalists plays down timing of tree-planting campaign: “Others make their voice heard on social media... in silence we are planting 1,100 trees”

Ian Borg, centre, is minister for roads and planning, and often the target of environmental NGOs' criticism on deregulation and excessive construction
Ian Borg, centre, is minister for roads and planning, and often the target of environmental NGOs' criticism on deregulation and excessive construction
Minister showcases green fingers with €1m tree-planting ahead of national protest

Just days before a national protest largely targeted at government's excessive deregulation on planning and construction, planning and transport minister Ian Borg has unveiled a €1 million tree-planting project he claims is Labour's 'silent' mission on the environment.

“While others were making their voice heard on social media and newspapers, which they have the right to do, in silence we were planting 1,100 trees,” the infrastructure minister said when asked about the timing of the project.

On Saturday, 52 residents' and civic action groups will march in Valletta calling for a moratorium on large-scale construction and for changes to Malta's planning rules, deregulated to a large degree since Labour's coming to power.

Borg was addressing the press at the Fort Rinella battery in Kalkara, where he announced the planting of the trees, part of a pledge to plant 6,700 indigenous trees across Malta by the end of the year.

He gave short shrift to a suggestion that his move was a cynical attempt at dampening criticism in the days prior to the national protest against excessive construction and environmental degradation.

“The timelines and timing set by the government are determined by our electoral manifesto, and we must follow them,” he said.

“It is good to have organisations voicing their concern, and the government will be discussing their demands,” Borg said.

Borg made reference to the various infrastructural projects around Malta, stating that they will help in providing a more streamlined traffic system in Malta. “We must ensure that every project is greener that it was before,” he stated.

The government’s pledge to plant 6,700 trees has already begun, with 1,100 trees planted at Rinella, 107 at the Saqqajja Hill and a further 455 trees at the Marsa junction.

Borg insisted that all trees planted are indigenous, stating that these contribute heavily to Malta’s eco-system. “I come from a family of farmers, and I know that non-indigenous trees like Eucalyptus can inflict a lot of damage on the land and eco-systems around them,” he stated.

Borg vowed that Infrastructure Malta will perform a continuous assessment on the newly planted trees, ensuring that the trees mature, while also removing and replacing any dead or dying trees in the process.

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