Malta's green party has called on politicians to preserve precious arable land that will otherwise be eaten into by the Mrieħel project and to focus on reducing cars on the road rather than widening roads.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday, ADPD leader Carmel Cacopardo pointed out the senselessness in the authorities' promised expenditure of €700m towards the greening of urban zones, while at the same time allowing the remaining open spaces to be clipped with construction and road widening developments.

"There is a political decision that needs to be made in connection with this project: should we sacrifice precious land in favour of cars or shall we preserve agriculture? It is possible not to have more cars on the road but the impact of the reduction of farmland is felt increasingly by all," Cacopardo said.

Infrastructure Minister Aaron Farrugia said recently he is willing to discuss plans to reduce the environmental damage caused by the planned Mrieħel flyover project.

The project is set to destroy one of the remaining green lungs for Qormi,  wiping out up to 20 tumoli (around 22,500 metres squared) of arable land.

Moreover, a huge water reservoir will be razed to the ground while several protected olive and pomegranate trees – some hundreds of years old – will need to be uprooted.

The government insists the flyover is necessary to remove the need for traffic coming from the south to have to cross the busy bypass to enter one area of the so-called business district.

However, Cacopardo pointed out "that the solution is not to make it easier for more cars to pass through but rather to reduce the number of cars on the road."

ADPD Deputy General Secretary Sandra Gauci added the ever-increasing destruction of arable land not only threatens the livelihood of farmers and their families but also undermines the provision of local produce and reduces the few remaining open spaces.

It also puts at risk EU funds aimed at agriculture, these being dependent on a clear strategy in favour of this sector, she said.

"If further proof was needed that the transport policy is being dictated solely by private vehicles the Mrieħel bypass project is a case in point,"  said Gauci.

"Our dependency on private transport is a reflection on decades-long successive governments’ lack of action in introducing measures promoting sustainable mobility," she added.

Sandra Gauci said that the ever-increasing destruction of arable land not only threatens the livelihood of farmers and their families but also undermines the provision of local produce and reduces the few remaining open spaces. It also puts at risk EU funds aimed at agriculture, these being dependent on a clear strategy in favour of this sector.

She pointed out that this is another road widening project that will lead us to nowhere because the traffic that should be moving faster along the bypass will still be getting stuck at the Qormi roundabout.

"This madness should stop now," concluded Gauci.

 

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