Updated | PA review tribunal rejects Central Link appeal, NGOs to go to court

The Environment and Planning Review Tribunal has rejected an appeal against the Central Link Project filed by NGOs and residents

Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg was the main target for protesters opposed to the Central Link project
Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg was the main target for protesters opposed to the Central Link project

The Central Link Project may go ahead after a tribunal rejected an appeal filed by NGOs and residents against planned road works between Rabat and Mrieħel.

The Environment and Planning Review Tribunal confirmed the permit granted by the Planning Authority last July for the road project.

But NGOs and residents that opposed the project have indicated they will take the matter to a civil court and appeal the EPRT decision.

Central Link will overhaul the road network between Mrieħel and the foot of Saqqajja Hill, creating a new road in the outskirts of Attard to split traffic flow in the area.

The government says the project will cut traffic congestion and reduce air pollution in the area but environmental groups and a residents’ group contend otherwise.

The project also caused controversy over the number of trees that will have to be uprooted that prompted a large protest in the area last summer.

Project plans show that 439 trees will be uprooted, including 67 protected trees. Of these trees, 185 will be relocated along the new road, and 539 indigenous trees will be planted as part of the project.

The new road will also take up agricultural land.

The tribunal rejected claims that the studies submitted with the planning application were not valid. It also refuted claims that the plans contained deceitful information, describing these statements as “frivolous”.

The tribunal turned down the complaint that the public was denied information on the project.

Infrastructure Malta welcomed the tribunal’s ruling, insisting that the outcome confirms the Central Link’s importance to solve traffic congestion in the area.

“I am confident that our team and the contractors who will be entrusted with the project will work to ensure its aims are met for the best interest of residents and all those who pass through the roads in the area,” Infrastructure Malta CEO Frederick Azzopardi said.

He said the agency will remain open to any constructive suggestions that could help improve the project and reduce any impacts it may have.

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