As Infrastructure Malta works full speed ahead to finish the controversial Central Link project, Times of Malta photographer Matthew Mirabelli snapped a few pictures of the trees that were lost in the process.
(Scroll through the picture to see 'before' and 'after')
Back when the project was announced on Times of Malta in 2017, it was immediately met with resistance from Attard residents and outraged NGOs.
Transport Malta had insisted that the project would not affect agricultural land along the development zone.
A few months later, transport minister Ian Borg had conceded that some land would be taken up while also insisting that the project's original footprint was much larger.
In 2018, Attard's local council joined the long list of Central Link objectors, urging the government to revise the project and to implement proposals made by the Attard Residents Environmental Network.
Towards the end of 2018, public debate on the project's merits escalated. The Malta Automobile Club had gathered over a 1,000 signatures in support of the project as a reaction to the 1,400 previously submitted objections.
The residents' lobby group had also pointed out that the project would lead to "the obliteration and complete destruction of over 450 trees, 4,8000 square metres of arable land, destruction of the livelihoods of 47 farmers."
Eventually, the project was approved midway through 2019, in spite of outraged objectors.
Only three Planning Authority members had voted against it, with Victor Axiak, chairman of the Environment and Resources Agency (ERA) remaining silent throughout the meeting.
The first lanes of the Central Link project were opened in September.
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