The Malta Independent 25 February 2020, Tuesday

‘How right we were’, triumphant Ian Borg says after Central Link appeal is rejected

Wednesday, 12 February 2020, 12:38 Last update: about 13 days ago

Transport Minister Ian Borg was in a triumphant mood on Wednesday morning after an appeal filed against the Central Link project was rejected, telling press that the decision had shown how right he and Infrastructure Malta were in pursuing the project.

The controversial €55 million project was granted a permit by the Planning Authority last July amid thousands of objections, and was reconfirmed upon appeal by the Environment Planning Review Tribunal. NGOs filed an appeal in court, but on Wednesday this was turned down by the Court of Appeal – although the court noted its disappointment that works had begun before the appeal was decided.

Borg said that the decision had only proved how right the government was to defend the project and to forge on with the plans which had been in place since George Borg Olivier was Prime Minister.

Borg listed through the positives of the project, speaking about how it will continue to improve air quality, landscaping, was taking up only half the amount of land initially planned in 2006, and how the people were strongly in favour of such projects.

He said that the court had also confirmed that the PA and the EPRT, which at the time were under his portfolio, had worked in a correct manner in granting and then confirming this permit.

Infrastructure Malta CEO Frederick Azzopardi said that this was the fifth stamp of approval that the project, citing the European Commission, the PA, the EPRT, the court’s rejection of the prohibitory injunction, and now the rejected appeal.

He addressed criticism directed at Infrastructure Malta for their decision to start works before the appeal process had finished by saying that the entity had comfort in the rejection of the prohibitory injunction and in the project being planned for 60 years, and that it had support of 75% of people.

While the court rejected all the points brought forward by the NGOs and individuals who filed the appeal, it did criticise the fact that works had begun before the appeal was decided upon, with the court noting that this could give rise to doubts over the court’s independence.

Azzopardi said that works will now intensify so that the project will be completed by the middle of 2021.

The appeal had been filed by NGOs Bicycle Advocacy Group, Din l-Art Helwa, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Ramblers’ Association of Malta, Green House, Moviment Graffitti, Malta Youth in Agricultural Foundation, and individuals Ralph Cassar, Malcolm Vella Haber, Edward Mallia, Stephen Pace, Cristino Antonio Scerri, Adrian Mallia, and John Camilleri.

Organisations studying way forward on Central Link case

A group of eighteen organisations and residents’ associations are disappointed with the conclusion of the Central Link court case. The Court of Appeal this morning rejected our appeal to revoke the Central Link project.

The Appellants also note that the Courts have recognised that the extension of the project, especially towards Saqqajja, was not included in the TEN-T network as a stretch of road which required upgrading. The Court emphasised that every development should be treated with more sensitivity and the permit conditions should be observed while the regulatory authorities are obliged to be strictly vigilant during every phase of the project.

Despite these irregularities and the attention called to them, however, the decision remains a negative one for the Maltese environment and people alike.

The Court expressed disappointment that the project started before the case was decided, making it seem that the refusal of this appeal was already a fait accompli - a reasonable assumption which emerges from the publicly documented fact and which is of no credit to Infrastructure Malta.

The Appellants are now studying the decision to explore further legal avenues.

Signed:

1.     Attard Local Council

2.     Attard Residents Environment Network

3.     Bicycle Advocacy Group

4.     BirdLife Malta

5.     Din l-Art Ħelwa

6.     Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar

7.     Friends of the Earth Malta

8.     Futur Ambjent Wieħed

9.     Għaqda Bdiewa Attivi

10.  Għaqda Sigar Maltin

11.  Greenhouse

12.  Isles of the Left

13.  Malta Youth in Agriculture Foundation

14.  Moviment Graffitti

15.  Nature Trust Malta

16.  Ramblers Association

17.  The Archeological Society of Malta

18.  The Mindful Warriors

 

 

 

 

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