Authorities must plant 875 new trees and fork out €343,000 in compensation for uprooting 100 protected trees and transplanting a further 55 as part of road works projects in Santa Luċija and Rabat.

The Environment and Resources Authority on Saturday said that permits allowing Infrastructure Malta to remove trees during works to widen Vjal Santa Luċija and Triq Buqana would be tied to afforestation and financial requirements.

New trees will be planted in Ta’ Qali, along the Coast Road as well as in Siġġiewi and Majjistral Park, and Infrastructure Malta must care for them for three years from when they are planted.

Works to widen key thoroughfares have prompted significant concern about mature trees being uprooted to make way for more lanes of traffic.

In January, when works on Triq Buqana got under way, an Infrastructure Malta spokesperson had said the authority would be planting 1,000 additional trees to make up for 40 protected trees which were killed during that initial phase.

Times of Malta has asked the ERA whether the permit conditions released on Saturday are in addition to that 1,000 tree pledge, or instead of it. 

Triq Buqana works

A permit to cover these works was issued on January 7. It allowed authorities to uproot:

  • 39 Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
  • 11 Aleppo pines (Pinus halepensis)
  • 29 sandarac gum trees (Tetraclinis articulata)
  • An undisclosed number of trees not protected under Maltese law

The permit also allowed authorities to transplant a further 46 protected trees:

  • 16 olive trees (Olea europaea)
  • Nine African tamarisks (Tamarix africana)
  • Eight myrtles (Myrtus communis)
  • Six bay laurels (Lauris nobilis)
  • Five Mediterranean dwarf fan palms (Chamaerops humilis)
  • One ficus (Ficus microcarpa)
  • One white mulberry tree (Morus alba)

To make up for this loss, the ERA has now ordered authorities to plant 725 new trees and pay €283,000 to the authority’s Environment Fund, which is used to plant more trees.

Most of the new trees will be planted in the Għadira s-Safra area along the Coast Road, with others planted close to Dar tal-Providenza in Siġġiewi and Majjistral Park.

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The permit is subject to a bank guarantee of €204,750 to ensure compliance with conditions.

Vjal Santa Luċija works

Authorities received a permit to remove and uproot trees as part of road works here on July 2.

That permit allows authorities to uproot 19 protected trees and an undisclosed number of trees not protected under Maltese law. The protected trees to be uprooted include:

  • Nine nettle trees (Celtis australis)
  • Eight Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
  • Two almond trees (Prunus dulcis)

Nine other protected trees can be transplanted, the ERA said:

  • Five Judas trees (Cercis siliquatrum)
  • Three carob trees (Ceratonia siliqua)
  • One ficus tree (also known as Indian laurel, Ficus microphylla).

As compensation, the ERA has ordered authorities to plant 150 new trees and pay €60,000 to its Environment Fund. The project is bound by a €42,000 bank guarantee to ensure compliance.

The new trees will be planted in Ta’ Qali, an ERA spokesperson said.