|Maltatoday, 23rd November 2008, by James Debono
BirdLife Malta and the Danish Village holiday complex are up in arms against a proposed new road linking Mellieha to Cirkewwa, arguing that this would pass right through a Natura 2000 site, protected by the EU’s Habitats and Birds Directives, as well as sections of the much-publicised Foresta 2000 afforestation project, including protected garigue landscape.
Ironically, the new road will involve asphalting a section of the same Foresta 2000 project which was targeted by vandals in May 2007: an environmental sacrilege roundly condemned by all and sundry, including the government.
But BirdLife Malta’s Executive Director Tolga Temuge insists that the project cannot get any funding from the European Union, because it will disturb habitats protected by EU law.
The Ghadira reserve was founded in 1980, it served as a hunting reserve before. Over the years, Birdlife Malta invested hundred of thousands of euros and today it serves as an educational centre for hundreds of school children from private and state schools.
The Foresta 2000 project, which covers 104 hectares between the Red Tower and the Danish village, does not only involve the planting of new trees but also the conservation of garigue areas and agricultural land.
The proposed single carriage road linking the Sea Bank Hotel to Cirkewwa is set to replace the existing four lane coastal road which will make way for an enlarged promenade.
The proposed road will directly effect the fortunes of the Danish village as it will pass just 15 metres from some of its bungalows.
The issue has been raised in parliament by Nationalist MP Charlò Bonnici, who asked Transport Minister Austin Gatt whether he was aware that the owners of the Danish Village are thinking of closing down if the proposed road is constructed.
Still, according to both Jensen and Temuge, all three options pass through the Natura 2000 site and only differ on how they connect to the rest of the road network linking Xemxija to Cirkewwa.
The extension of the TEN-T road network to the north of Malta is posing a number of environmental difficulties.
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