Environmental NGOs Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Nature Trust Malta, Ramblers Association of Malta, Din L-Art Helwa, Friends of the Earth Malta, GAIA Foundation, and BirdLife Malta will be lodging a formal complaint to the EU, if MEPA fails to refuse the proposed TEN-T Ghadira road project.
The Ten-T Ghadira road project is being proposed by the ADT based on the allegation that the existing road is causing the erosion of the Ghadira beach. The environmental NGOs stated that in the absence of any scientific evidence on the alleged beach erosion and its causes, MEPA should inform the ADT that the proposed project is a non-starter.
The proposed project will damage the Ghadira area which is protected as a Natura 2000 site under European nature laws. It is expected to be discussed this week, during the meetings that will be held between Malta and the European Commission officials who are on an official visit to Malta.
The environmental NGOs decided to take action at EU level after they learned that the ADT had submitted four draft Project Description Statements (PDS) to MEPA on the 4th of August. The NGOs were informed that these PDS were still in draft form and therefore not available to the public yet. Furthermore, last March, ADT submitted three outline proposals for the TEN-T Ghadira road project to MEPA and a fourth proposal in April.
“By submitting the draft Project Description Statements for all four options to MEPA, the Maltese authorities are evidently pressing on with this destructive and unjustified project in spite of overwhelming public opposition,” said Tolga Temuge, BirdLife Malta Executive Director.
The issuing of four proposals for the same project is highly irregular and not standard practice as they differ widely in their content. Three of these proposals call for the removal of the existing road and the building of a new road in the EU protected area, while one contradicts the apparently “fundamental” reason for the road project – the alleged erosion of Ghadira Beach – by calling for the existing road to remain and be upgraded.
“We expect MEPA to explain to the public why the Authority did not point out this contradiction in the proposals and refuse the other three options that propose building a new road through the Ghadira Natura 2000 protected area when an alternative already exists – the current Ghadira road,” continued Temuge.
The environmental NGOs reiterated their position that before the applications for building a new road in Ghadira can be processed by MEPA, the developer, in this case ADT, should prove that the existing road is causing the alleged erosion of Ghadira beach and that its removal is essential.
“MEPA must therefore tell the Ministry that this proposal is a non-starter as there is no proof to support the fundamental concept behind this project. The authorities cannot justify the use of EU funds for such a superfluous project which will damage one of Malta’s most important Natura 2000 sites.” the NGOs concluded.
Photo: The Ghadira Nature Reserve forms part of the Natura 2000 area threatened by the proposed road development, and is an important stop over for migrating birds like this Little Egrets. Photo by Aron Tanti, September 2009.