Eight environmental NGOs and seven residents on Tuesday filed an appeal against the controversial Central Link road project.

They are arguing that an Environmental Impact Assessment for the project was rife with inaccuracies and misleading statements and that planners approved the project on the basis of unseen documentation. 

All works at the site should be suspended pending the appeal application, they said in their appeal with the Environmental and Planning Review Tribunal.

The Central Link project will see roads between Rabat and Mrieħel widened to ease traffic bottlenecks. It has drawn vociferous criticism over concerns that the plans will take up nearly 50,000 square metres of agricultural land, see several hundred mature trees uprooted and vernacular buildings of heritage value demolished.

Appellants have said that the applicant, Infrastructure Malta, has a track record of commencing works without permits, citing urgency or other constraints. This effectively circumvented all legal parameters and scrutiny and made it close to impossible for objectors and appellants to obtain any form of remedy, they said. 

If buildings were already demolished and agricultural land excavated and trees uprooted, appeals could become expensive exercises in futility. 

Infrastructure Malta, they argued, should not be permitted to exercise untrammelled power unbound by laws which regulated everybody else. The appeal, for the health of residents, sustainability, and the environment, was mostly against the flagrant abuse of the planning system.

The NGOs are Bicycle Advocacy Group, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Ramblers' Association of Malta, Green House, Moviment Graffitti, Malta Youth in Agriculture Foundation, Ralph Cassar, Malcolm Vella Haber, Edward Mallia, Stephen Pace, Cristino Antonio Scerri, Adrian Mallia, and John Camilleri.

The appeal was signed by lawyers Claire Bonello and Christine Bellizzi and architects Tara Cassar and Carmel Cacopardo. 

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