Please sir, not the axe! 549 trees to be uprooted and virgin land to be lost at Saqqajja
The decision on the project will be taken this Thursday.
Driving through the lush green between Attard and Rabat won’t be the same soon as hundreds of trees - 549 to be exact - might be facing the axe at Saqqajja, when the recommended plans for the controversial Central Link Project are approved. The decision on the €55 million project is to be taken on Thursday during a public meeting with the Planning Authority Board.
The project, apart from uprooting an extraordinary amount of trees, will also have greater impact. Indeed, 49,000 square metres of virgin land will be lost as well as a number of historic buildings close to the recently restored St Paul’s Chapel in Attard.
The project, in its entirety, aims to alleviate traffic congestion around Attard and remove the bottleneck at Triq in-Nutar Zarb. The Central Link Project also incorporates a new bypass on the outskirts of the village.
Since unveiled in May, the project was on the receiving end of public outrage and the authorities have tried to make revisions to the plans, promising to plant 766 trees. However, no measures have been proposed for the loss of virgin land and historic buildings.
Environmental activist Cami Appelgren posted to Facebook a screenshot of the Central Link document that states the environmental impact of the project. “The Scheme will involve the permanent loss of a substantial tract of undeveloped land (natural land and land under cultivation), as well as the temporary loss of additional undeveloped land. Some of this land to be lost includes land within designated Areas of Ecological Value.”
The document mentions that while some trees are transplantable, indigenous and non-indigenous, some will also be lost. “Where the maturity of the trees to be transplanted is uncertain, there may be difficulties in securing the successful transplantation of the more mature trees; hence, there may be the loss of more trees than currently envisaged,” the document states.
Cami, in her post, said that, “The trees, if even surviving, take decades to recover and we don’t have that time.”