The government is to plant 8,000 trees in a site perviously earmarked for the expansion of the freeport in what will be Malta's biggest afforestation project to date. 

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said an application to extend the freeport inward at Bengħajsa, limits of Birżebbuġa had been withdrawn, making way for the "massive" afforestation project.

Instead, the freeport will now continue to grow towards the sea, away from people.

"The previous administration had earmarked this land for an extension of the Freeport terminals, effectively turning it into a container terminal," Dr Mizzi said.

Instead, part of the land behind the freeport will be developed into a park. Another area will be developed as a camping site, Environment Minister Jose' Herrera said.

In total, 87 tumoli of land will be used and 8,000 endemic trees will be planted, he said. Maintenance for the camping site will be entrusted to an as yet undetermined NGO, Dr Herrera said.

The €400,000 afforestation project will also include the renovation of an underground bunker dating back to the British rule. 

The inconvenience the Freeport creates on residents of Birżebbuġa had to be addressed, the Environment Minister said.  

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