Fresh plans of the controversial €55 million Central Link Project aimed at alleviating traffic in Attard have been submitted to the Planning Authority, with the government saying that this would result in less agricultural land being taken up.

Unveiled last May, the project, which stretches from the bottom of Saqqajja Hill to Mrieħel, has courted controversy over the number of trees to be uprooted.

Moreover, Attard residents have been up in arms over the project as it comprises a new bypass, right next to their homes along Triq Oliver Agius, Triq Ferdinandu Inglott and Triq Tumas Chetcuti.

They claim that it will expose them to toxic traffic emissions and particulate matter.

The Transport Ministry on Thursday announced that revised plans were submitted following a series of discussions with individuals, organisations and other stakeholders.

The new design will cut travelling time by half

Changes to the project were announced a month ago, by Transport Minister Ian Borg in the wake of a story published by Times of Malta that up to 200 Aleppo pine trees between Mount Carmel Hospital and Saqqajja had been earmarked for uprooting.

Subsequently, Dr Borg insisted that these had been preliminary plans which were in the process of being updated.

While Thursday's statement made no mention of any trees being uprooted, this will still result in the loss of about 150 trees.

Such conclusion stems from the fact that the overall number of trees along the entire route will increase by 550, despite the fact that 700 indigenous species will be planted.

According to the ministry the new design will cut travelling time by half between the areas of Mrieħel, Birkirkara, Balzan, Attard, Ta’ Qali, Żebbuġ, Rabat and Mosta.

Moreover, particulate matter emissions will drop by 13 per cent, nitrogen dioxide by 16 per cent and volatile organic compound emissions by 67 per cent, the statement read. The new design also features two new subways while cycle lanes will be trebled.

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