Timeframes for a major road works project in Attard made a mockery of public consultation principles and directly violated the government’s stated long-term transportation aims, Alternattiva Demokratika said on Friday.
At a press conference on Friday morning, Alternattiva Demokratika emphasised its opposition to the Central Link project and highlighted concerns about it being subjected to a half-baked public consultation process.
That process, AD said, would come to an end before an Environmental Impact Assessment started being compiled.
“How can there be a serious public consultation without making available the important information which comes out of the EIA?” the party asked at a news conference.
The party also slammed the project for "blatantly" contradicting the area's local plan, which only mentioned a "local road".
The application for the project, AD said, described the large project as being for a "schemed" road.
The government’s own policies clearly state that there needs to be a cultural shift in transport use
"The application is incorrect since the proposal is for the building of a major artery or bypass," AD said.
The €55 million Central Link project would create new roads and junctions in the stretch between the Mrieħel bypass and Saqqajja Hill, to alleviate traffic pressures which plague that stretch of road.
Objectors, including Attard local council and concerned residents who have banded together to form the Attard Residents Environment Network, say that the project would see agricultural land gobbled up, trees chopped down and the locality turned into a traffic hub.
Proponents say the project is long-overdue, would cut emissions by reducing traffic and make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to use the thoroughfare.
AD has also criticised the project for going against the government’s own local plans and undermining long-term transportation goals, which explicitly call for a shift away from “new road construction to better integration of public transport priority measures on better managed roads”.
The negative impact on local agriculture – the project will take up significant swathes of arable land – was also highlighted by party chairman Carmel Cacopardo.
“When push comes to shove, farmers are always the victims. No wonder efforts to get young people to take up agriculture as a career are failing. On every possible occasion agricultural land is being destroyed," he said.
Speaking at Friday’s press conference, an AREN representative urged Transport Minister Ian Borg to take a level-headed look at the project and contrast it to proposals made by its opponents.
“Our medium- to long-term proposals are based on the government’s own policies which clearly state that there needs to be a cultural shift in transport use,” the AREN spokesperson said.
The pressure group said it was not impressed by efforts to paint residents opposed to the Central Link project as also being dead-set against resolving the locality's traffic issues.
“We urge the minister to take the bull by the horns and address problems by ensuring that those leading projects are competent and with no hidden agendas,” they added.
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