Updated at 9.20am with PD statement

Stop the senseless tree destruction and rather plan to plant many more trees in Malta and Gozo, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar said in an impassioned statement on Wednesday.

It was reacting to news that the Luqa roads project would “massacre” some 500 trees, including the old cypresses that line the road overlooking the Addolorata Cemetery. These cypresses, over 50 years old, are protected, it added.

Read: Addolorata hill trees may be uprooted for Sta Luċija underpass

In addition to over 300 trees to be destroyed on arterial roads, a further 150 trees are to be removed from the St Thomas Moore School grounds, supposedly to make way for a jogging track,” the eNGO said.

These trees alongside the school presently shield the students from vehicle pollution which is proven to stunt lung development in children

“How can the authorities justify this destruction, when Sta Luċija already has a jogging track in a different location and when the jogging track can weave between the trees, saving most of them?

“These trees alongside the school presently shield the students from vehicle pollution which is proven to stunt lung development in children. Without the trees to screen them, the students will be exposed to higher levels of toxic emissions which contribute to heart problems, strokes and fertility issues,” FAA warned.

Recent EU statistics show that Malta's performance on reducing air pollution is one of the worst in the EU. Statistics indicate that around one in five of people who die young do so as a result of long-term exposure to pollution.

“Yet instead of acting to reduce the use of private vehicles, control emissions on commercial vehicles and plant more trees, this government is doing just the opposite.”

Road projects should look at needs of 'tomorrow'

The Sta Luċija project also raised the ire of the Partit Demokratiku, which said that successive governments touted roadwork congestion relief as a solution when in reality, all they were doing was creating what traffic planners call “induced demand” for more vehicles on our roads.

“Government is insisting on building the roads infrastructure that may have suited us yesterday when we really need to understand and construct the roads of tomorrow.

PD’s traffic policy calls for a reduction in the number of cars on the roads, creating a greener infrastructure that includes the pedestrianisation of urban cores, as well as incentivising other means of transport.