Press Release 28 November 2008

SIX environmental NGOs including Din l-Art Helwa, Nature Trust (Malta), BirdLife Malta, Friends of the Earth (Malta), the Light Pollution Awareness Group and the Ramblers Association today expressed their opposition to the recently proposed new TEN-T road project in Ghadira.

The NGOs stated that the proposed project will have a major negative impact on the environment with regards to the habitats of the protected site such as garigue and steppe habitats, the biodiversity including the birds that breed and rest at the Ghadira Nature Reserve and the Foresta 2000 site, through increased light and noise pollution in the currently undisturbed area. The organizations also expressed their concerns about the possible impact on water resources in the area.

After government’s recent statements that the environment is a priority for this legislature, this road project is a major retreat on the nature conservation pledge in the Maltese islands since it was announced that this project will be given the fast track, the NGOs charged.

The environmental groups stated that they felt that government is acting in a crisis management attitude and wants to take a decision based on the fact that it will lose structural funds. This goes against any principles of EU funding when Natura 2000 sites could be at risk of being damaged with EU funded projects.

The NGOs also noted that none of the organizations have been consulted on all the five alternatives recently presented by the Minister to date.Furthermore they insisted that it was the Ministry’s duty to prove the need for a new road when there are no existing traffic problems with the current road.

The NGOs added that the argument used that moving the road further in will help save the sand dunes, needs to be proved by further studies, including coastal modelling ones, such as the ones used by MTA to identify coastal sites for beach nourishment, since the replenishment process will still be cut off by the new road. The NGOs called upon the Prime Minister to act cautiously on such projects as the environment is at stake.