The Environment and Resources Authority said on Friday it had approved the uprooting of two old trees in Attard after being told there was no alternative.

The statement was issued one day after Infrastructure Malta uprooted two 70-year-old ficus trees in Triq in-Nutar Żarb despite protests by residents and environmentalists who claimed they have 30 days to contest the permit.

ERA said it had asked IM to justify the application for a change in the existing Central Link Project permit, which included the removal of the two trees.

In its replies, IM had said the trees needed to be removed to make way for an exit lane.

"IM also provided expert advice that the trees could not be transplanted and had to be removed as the extent of services within the structure of the roots is extensive. Any attempt to transplant the trees would be fruitless as the root structure will be impacted irreparably," ERA said. 

On May 7, the ERA board referred the application back to the directorate, asking IM to submit alternative layouts that would avoid the removal of the trees.

IM replied on May 18, saying that the proposed design was the result of a Road Safety Audit and there were no alternative options.

"The ERA board considered the submission by the expert engaged by the applicant and documentation stating that no alternative layouts are possible in view of road safety standards and granted the permit on May 21," it added.

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