29 November 2008

Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) Chairperson Arnold Cassola announced that German Green MEP Michael Cramer, who was a specialist on transport issues and sat on the Transport Committee of the European Parliament (EP), would be in Malta next week to discuss the issue of the proposed road in Ghadira with Transport Minister Austin Gatt.
Cassola said: “Since it is planned that this road will be financed by EU monies, it is only right that we ensure that the EU and Maltese taxpayers’ money is invested in a proper and sustainable way.
“AD supports the position taken by ‘Din l-Art Helwa’ that Government should make all available studies on the proposed road public,” the AD chairperson insisted.Carmel Cacopardo, AD spokesperson on Sustainable Development and Local Government explained how the Ghadira Nature reserve was a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) protected in terms of the Habitats’ Directive.

“The road as proposed by Government will have a negative effect on the Nature Reserve through bringing both traffic noise and light pollution much closer to the said reserve. We are still not convinced that it will not damage the tourist investment at the Danish Village, as well as the Nature Reserve in Ghadira,” Cacopardo insisted.He further stated that the assurance by Minister Gatt that the planned road would not impinge on Foresta 2000 was welcome but, he said, on the basis of the information published by the Minister, AD was convinced that it would be prejudicial to both the tourist investment at the Danish Village, as well as the Nature Reserve in Ghadira. Whilst emphasising that the EU would not finance projects adversely affecting SACs, Cacopardo insisted that the plans published earlier this week should be scrapped.

On his part, Ralph Cassar, party spokesperson on Transport, Industry and Innovation said that it was positive that consultations were being held with Birdlife and the Danish Village management, “but we expect a public consultation at the earliest possible.“The Ghadira nature reserve is administered by Birdlife on behalf of the Maltese and Gozitan community and ultimately it is this community that has to be convinced and satisfied that this project is really needed and well planned.
We join the call made by NGOs for the Minister to publish any studies regarding beach erosion, if these exist. There is a real danger that removing the current road will threaten the nature reserve since the road protects the reserve from destructive storms,” Cassar concluded.