Expert fears for Wied il-Lunzjata and Mġarr valley as more country paths are widened and surfaced
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Expert fears for Wied il-Lunzjata and Mġarr valley as more country paths are widened and surfaced

Vegetation obliterated as concrete is laid

Fresh alarm has been raised about surfacing of country roads after the practice was spotted at il-Lunzjata in the limits of Rabat, and a valley on the outskirts of Mġarr.

Concerns were first raised when concrete was poured on newly-widened country lanes at Wied l-Isqof in Rabat, destroying vegetation.

Alfred Baldacchino, a former assistant director of the Environment Protection Directorate at the now defunct Malta Environment and Planning Authority, raised the concerns amid fears that works by State entities would result in “further destruction of biodiversity”. 

The matters were flagged in e-mails sent to the transport and environment ministers, Infrastructure Malta, the political parties, the Environment and Resources Authority and other State entities.

Mr Baldacchino claimed that the same mistakes that recently prompted ERA to halt ongoing works by Infrastructure Malta at Wied l-Isqof – on the grounds that these were causing environmental destruction – were being repeated again a Il-Lunzjata.

He pointed out he had nothing against improving access for farmers as long as these country paths would not morph into highways.

“As long as the existing footprint is maintained, and vegetation at the margins is not affected -in order for the rain to percolate to the water table - there is nothing wrong,” he said.

“However, widening country paths goes against the interests of farmers themselves, as the area will become more accessible and exposed, thus increasing the risks of thefts of produce like melons and water melons,” he added.

The expert said that at country paths and roads used by farmers in Il-Lunzjata were being widened by encroaching on virgin land and all vegetation was being obliterated as the concrete was being applied across the entire width of the road.

Furthermore, the works were destabilising rubble walls in view of the fact that the soil underneath was being removed.

Mr Baldacchino criticised these works, saying they were not being carried out in consultation with other State entities, such as the Energy and Water Agency.

The biodiversity expert also took issue with the “ridiculous” reply given to him by Environment Minister José Herrera. The latter insisted that these works consisted of the removal of some vegetation from the roads and pavements.

“It seems that whoever briefed the minister about the matter had taken him for a ride as there are no pavements at Il-Lunzjata,” Mr Baldacchino said.

“Evidence on the ground suggests that this pristine area is braced to face the same fate of Wied l-Isqof.”

Mr Baldacchino has also flagged the situation at Wied il-Ħżejjen on the outskirts of Mġarr, where a number of trees were uprooted in recent days. He claimed that during this operation heavy vehicles belonging to Transport Malta were seen on site.

“Though I reported the matter to ERA, by the time enforcement officers arrived on the spot, they had left,” he told this newspaper.

Replying to questions from the Times of Malta and ERA spokeswomen noted that in both cases a verbal stop notice was issued on both sides. She added that action was taken following complaints from the public.

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