Transport Malta’s plan to widen the existing road connecting Mellieha to San Pawl is set to have a devastating ecological impact.
The 25 pine trees earmarked for uprooting are very old trees, probably some of the oldest known trees of its kind.
According to plans submitted by Transport Malta the trees will be “transplanted” but re-locating very old trees is known to be a difficult and messy process.
The trees are protected by the Trees and Woodlands Protection Regulations. The area is also characterised by a thick accumulation of Quaternary deposits. These deposits are important for the vast number of fossilised remains that they have brought to light.
These have included flora and fauna that are now extinct from the islands and are living testimony to the changes in the climate of the Maltese Islands over the past thousands of years.
The Environment Resources Authority has already objected to the proposal due to the considerable land take-up at the expense of afforested and undeveloped rural land. The proposed interventions to widen the main road would result in direct impacts on “undeveloped rural land, existing vegetation and protected trees” as well as “severe modifications to the physical environment” and the “tearing through the bedrock and its Quaternary deposits.”
Currently, the existing road is characterised by a single carriageway of one northbound and one southbound lane with two consecutive U-turns that create a sharp S bend.
Plans submitted indicate that the proposal will include widening from one lane northbound/uphill and one lane southbound/downhill to two lanes northbound/uphill and one lane southbound/downhill. 4653 m2 of land will be impacted by the development.
This application is also proposing to widen the existing pedestrian trail located at the Southern part of an area known as ‘ic-Cangar’ and carry out an extension to reconnect it towards the Northern part of ‘Ic-Cangar.’
ERA is also objecting to the development of a pedestrian trail which would open up a relatively pristine landscape to new pressures and to the formalization of the old rural pathway known as Ic-Cangar.
The winding of the road from Mistra Bridge to Selmun Junction was revealed by Finance Minister Edward Scicluna in the budget.