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95 per cent chance Balzan trees will survive relocation, local council's expert says

Objectors ask to see plans, but say council and Transport Malta are ignoring them

The public garden where the trees will be replanted. Photos: Chris Sant Fournier

The public garden where the trees will be replanted. Photos: Chris Sant Fournier

The Balzan council has appointed a horticultural expert to oversee the relocation of two mature trees which are due to be uprooted for the realignment of Triq il-Wied, the mayor said yesterday.

From RIP to SOS.From RIP to SOS.

Ian Spiteri told the Times of Malta when contacted that according to the expert, Peter Calleja, the ficus trees have a 95 per cent chance of survival.

The two trees will be relocated to a public garden a few streets away, in an area between Triq Bosio and Triq l-Għerusija.

Dr Spiteri said that the council was shown the Planning Authority’s policy on such roads and was told that realignment was necessary. Part of a private car park will also be expropriated to align the road.

This meant that the trees would have ended up in the middle of a carriageway. Aside from this, the council was looking to have pavements installed.

Construction should not go ahead without proper consultation

“We insisted that the road should have a 1.2 metre pavement on both sides. There is no pavement and it’s very dangerous.

“I think safety should be everyone’s priority here,” he said.

He said that while the council wanted the two iconic trees to remain where they have stood for years, this could not happen at the expense of safety.

Moreover, it made little sense to invest in rebuilding a road which could be damaged by the tree roots, the mayor said.

Triq il-Wied is set to get a long-awaited rebuilding in the next few months. The project will be sectored over three phases and is planned to be completed by the end of the summer.

Residents placed RIP notices on the trees.Residents placed RIP notices on the trees.

Dr Spiteri said the relocation of the trees will be carried out by the Environmental Landscapes Consortium and monitored by the council’s expert.

He said said the council was continuously receiving complaints and claims for the council to cover damage to cars.

The road upgrade will support the forthcoming Central Link Project, a €55 million plan to upgrade the arterial thoroughfare between Saqqajja Hill in Rabat and the Mrieħel bypass.

Local council ignores objectors

While admitting that the road was in a bad state, residents who objected to the removal of the trees put RIP notices on the trees. In a statement, a group of residents said construction should not go ahead without a proper consultation process.

RIP signs were replaced by ones with 'SOS' on them on Monday night, as objectors struggled to get any sort of response from councillors. 

The group has officially contacted the council to request a public meeting on the topic, but as of Tuesday morning had not received a reply.

Their efforts to get a copy of the proposed plans from the council and from Transport Malta also proved futile, they said on Tuesday. 

 

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