Times of Malta 23 January 2010, by Kurt Sansone –
The controversial Għadira road project may have been temporarily shelved but the environmental studies on the government’s four applications are expected to continue.
The Malta Environment and Planning Authroity is preparing the guidelines for the environment impact assessment on the proposed re-routing or upgrading of the existing road and is asking the public to submit any issues that should be included in the terms of reference.
The deadline for submissions is February 12 and they have to be addressed to the Director of Environment Protection.
The government last year submitted four applications covering a range of options from upgrading the existing road to the construction of a completely new one passing behind the Sea Bank Hotel and the nature reserve.
The Għadira road forms part of the European Transport Ten-T network, which is the major route linking the Freeport to Ċirkewwa.
Roads Minister Austin Gatt said last October construction work was being temporarily shelved and EU funds earmarked for the project were to be redirected towards the construction of a new junction at Kappara.
Dr Gatt had complained about Mepa’s procrastination in issuing the terms of reference for the environmental impact assessment. The delay prompted the ministry to drop the idea of building the road using EU funds because the deadline for submitting proposals was very tight.
It would be built using government funds instead. Environmental groups were up in arms after the government proposed the building of a new road further inland instead of the current road, which passes alongside the sandy beach.
The ministry had justified its plans saying the road as it stood today was a major cause of sand erosion at the popular bay and produced a study by British coastal geology expert Kenneth Pye to back up its claims.
The report had also pointed out that further studies were required to determine the impact of the road’s removal on the low-lying nature reserve, which risked flooding.
Further details on the EIA terms of reference can be found on www.mepa.org.mt/permitting-ea-cons.