News | Sunday, 30 May 2010

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Kappara road widening raises concerns on Ghollieq valley

A proposed Kappara road junction is set to impinge on the Wied Ghollieq valley, a special area of conservation administrated by Nature Trust, according to a project development statement submitted to MEPA.
The multi-level junction, which includes a flyover on the present roundabout, has been in the offing since the early 1990s but was only given priority following the government’s decision to apply for EU funding for this project, after the controversial Ghadira road project was put on the backburner.
While highly beneficial to the environment, as it reduces congestion and pollution on a major artery, the project will require the taking up of parts of the valley and the uprooting of a substantial number of trees, the PDS report states.
Carob and Aleppo Pine trees, which are protected under the Trees and Woodlands Regulations, are expected to be removed.
Nature Trust has already written to MEPA and the Office of the Prime Minister requesting more information on the project. “We are presently gathering the facts,” Nature Trust president Vince Attard told MaltaToday.
But according to Attard the indications given by the OPM are that the project will not involve the uptake of land, but a widening of the overlying bridge.
According to the PDS, the planned junction upgrade is to some extent in conflict with the North Harbour Local Plan, which among other things recognises the Wied Għollieqa valley as a special area of conservation of national importance.
The junction is a vital node in the Maltese transport network and the ‘do-nothing’ option would evidently mean that congestion from heavy traffic flows, particularly during peak hours, will be the norm.
The junction is intended to serve as one of the principal nodes of the proposed link road connecting Manoel Island with Triq Mikiel Anton Vassalli. This link road is required in order to lighten the load on the road network within Gżira and Msida.

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