[WATCH] Farmers dismayed as fertile land is excavated for Central Link project

Farmers woke up one fine morning to find contractors excavating fields they were tilling the day before despite a pending court appeal contesting the project

Excavators moved in to start excavations for the Central Link Project
Excavators moved in to start excavations for the Central Link Project
Farmers dismayed as fertile land is excavated for Central Link project

Barely had the ink dried on a court decision to lift an injunction against the Central Link project that contractors moved in on farmland to start excavations.

The abrupt decision to move heavy machinery onto the fields has left farmers dismayed, especially since the permit is still subject to an appeals court decision.

Infrastructure Malta announced the commencement of excavation works required for the new Attard bypass.

MaltaToday met with farmers in the area who were tilling the land only 24 hours before the heavy machinery moved in.

Particularly impacted are the fertile fields along Triq Oliver Agius in Attard where farmers expressed their dismay at not even being forewarned that the works were going to start.  

“We simply woke up one fine morning to find contactors in the fields which we had been tilling till the day before,” they said.

They also expressed their disappointment that works had started while the appeal in the law courts is still pending.  

Vegetables and agricultural produce were destroyed by heavy machinery that moved into the fields
Vegetables and agricultural produce were destroyed by heavy machinery that moved into the fields

The appellants in the Central Link case had originally found out that works were about to start before Christmas and filed a prohibitory injunction to try and stop them until the Court of Appeal could decide on the matter.

But now the First Hall of the Civil Court decided that since the Court of Appeal judgment was imminent, any works carried out would not be irreversible. The injunction was lifted and the equipment moved in.

The project approved by the Planning Authority in July last year and confirmed on appeal by the Environment and Review Tribunal in November involves the obliteration of 40,000 sq.m of agricultural land. The project is now being contested in the law courts.

Infrastructure Malta has insisted that the €55 million investment will reduce travel times, improve air quality and create safer spaces for alternative modes of travel along the arterial road corridor between Mrieħel and Ta’ Qali.

Works which started this week include the excavations for the foundations of the new lanes, footpaths, bus lay-bys and cycle tracks that will be built along the project route, which extends from the Mrieħel Bypass, along Mdina Road, through Birkirkara, Balzan and Attard, to the roundabout at the foot of Saqqajja Hill, at Ta’ Qali.

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