Santa Lucia residents woke up yesterday morning to find that the eucalyptus trees bordering the football pitch along Oleander Avenue and Begonia Street had disappeared.

It was a shock for some who called The Sunday Times to complain there were just one-foot stumps instead of trees, but a pleasant surprise for the elderly whose view and sunlight has been blocked by the towering branches.

One man, who did not wish to be named, was fuming when he saw the trees being sawn off from their trunks and wondered if this was simply a way of creating a seating area for those who had nowhere to sit when watching a football match.

However, mayor Frederick Cutajar insisted this was not the case. When contacted, he said the “invasive” eucalyptus trees were being chopped down to be replaced with more indigenous ones; a project being carried out by Malta Parks and approved by the council.

“Eucalyptus trees are not protected and we will be uprooting about 10 to 15 of them and replacing them with more indigenous trees, such as Mediterranean pines and carob trees,” Mr Cutajar said.

Not all the eucalyptus trees will be removed; instead, some of them will be heavily pruned and lowered, he said, adding that the council certainly did not wish the area to become bare.

Mr Cutajar also said the council had received complaints from elderly residents, living in the apartment blocks opposite, that the trees completely blocked out the sunlight and their views.

The council was very ecologically minded, he said. It had recently planted some 1,000 bushes close to the jogging track and was continuously planting trees.

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