Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar on Tuesday welcomed Transport Malta’s decision to withdraw its “abusive application” to build a marina office, restaurant and shop on the children’s play area at Gżira gardens.

It said that, even by  Transport Malta standards, this was an obscene proposal, to deprive children of their much-needed play area, in a town where no other play areas exist, to build yet more commercial outlets. 

FAA said it is inconceivable how a state entity like Transport Malta could use taxpayer money to plan and submit an application that “so grossly violated Malta’s planning regulations”.

These, FAA said, included the Strategic Plan for Environment and Development (SPED) that stipulates “existing recreational resources are to be protected, enhanced and accessible, to facilitate the provision of new recreational facilities to improve social cohesion, human health, air quality and biodiversity”. The North Harbours Local Plan also clearly designated the garden as a public open area cannot be built upon.

FAA, which had campaigned against the development, raising some 200 objections from nearby residents said the garden is vital to the health of residents of Giżra and surrounding towns. It had also challenged the validity of the application, since Transport Malta is responsible for transport matters, not for setting up restaurants on public land.

It said on Tuesday the project would also have destroyed protected pine trees, Pinus Halepensis, “continuing Transport Malta’s track record of tree destruction”.

FAA called on the Environment Resources Authority to issue a tree protection order for the trees and to designate the garden as a tree protection area.

Ġnien il-Kunsill tal-Ewropa had been set up by the British colonial administration between 1889 and 1900. 

A petrol station is already approved for construction in the garden.

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