Pembroke residents and a group of NGOs who are staunchly opposed to a high-rise project planned for the area by db Group have said that their widespread opposition "must be respected". 

In a statement issued through activist group Moviment Graffitti, the Pembroke residents said that the high-rise project, intended for the site of what used to be the Institute of Tourism Studies, had attracted the greatest number of official objections ever recorded. 

A total 5,000 people objected to the first application and 6,000 to the second proposal after the courts revoked the permit to start building. The Pembroke council also repeatedly objected to the project and spoke on behalf of the community.

A report by the National Audit Office found significant shortcomings in the way the government handed over the land intended for the deal and accused a top official at the Tourism Ministry of "misleading" NAO investigators.

The db Group has said that the NAO report found no evidence of wrongdoing on its part and confirmed that it had paid a fair price for the land.  

Residents said on Friday that in light of the NAO report as well as the prime minister's pledge to strike a healthy balance between safeguarding the environment and the construction industry, residents' opposition to the db Group project should be respected. 

"We fully agree with the Local Councils' Association and its president, Mr Mario Fava, that the project causes irreparable damage to quality of life in the area. It is useless having a project that claims it will generate economic activity if it wrecks the lives of so many people," the residents said.

"This is certainly not an example of a project that seeks to strike a balance between protecting the natural environment and residential areas and facilitating the construction industry."

The Pembroke area, they noted, had been experiencing traffic congestion for a number of years and unsustainable megaprojects in the area would only make matters worse by exacerbating the congestion and causing more harmful air pollution.

Residents said they were in favour of a plan to build a tunnel under St Andrews Road that was part of the TEN-T project. But the plans would require "substantial modification" to better serve residents rather than massive projects planned by the db Group and Corinthia, they added.

The statement was endorsed by the local councils of Pembroke, St Julian's and Swieqi as well as by several NGOs: Archaeological Society of Malta, BirdLife Malta, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Futur Ambjent Wieħed, Isles of the Left, Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta and Żminijietna.

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