Moviment Graffitti files appeal against uprooting of trees in Dingli

Farmers, residents and activists join forces to overturn ERA permit

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Moviment Graffitti together with farmers and residents have stepped up their actions in Dingli by filing an appeal with the EPRT against an Environment Resources Authority, ERA, decision to issue a permit for the uprooting of two mature trees, paving the way for Infrastructure Malta to build a new road on arable land in ODZ.

The proposed road will spell the death of two 300-year old carob trees, the livelihood of farmers who till the land in the area, and ruin the context if not structural integrity of a medieval chapel which, earlier this week, has been granted scheduling after a request by residents and activists.

“In what has now become a familiar modus operandi, Infrastructure Malta personnel appeared onsite without warning a day after the permit was issued and started chopping trees in the area, before being halted yet again by residents and activists,” explained the NGO.

ERA personnel had arrived in Dingli to investigate, after Infrastructure Mlata didn’t inform ERA of its plan to commence works as indicated in permit conditions. In view of this, farmers, residents and activists have moved to apply for the suspension of works, which have started illegally during the period in which the appeal may be filed, once again without any notification.

In their appeal, the appellants are contesting ERA’s unreasonable decision to grant this permit, and various breaches of numerous regulations including provisions of the Aarhus Convention and EU Directives.

“Contrary to what has been claimed by Infrastructure Malta, only part of the proposed road is schemed, with the rest being situated on ODZ land and thus necessitating a full development permission,” said Moviment Graffitti.

 A spokesperson for Moviment Graffitti said in a statement that they have never seen such urgency for a road to be built.   

“Infrastructure Malta has tried to commence these roadworks twice already, twice without notice and twice in breach of existing policies while Minister Ian Borg sent out a flyer to all Dingli trying to sell the road, knowing there’s widespread opposition to it. We can only wonder whether there are hidden agendas behind this unusual, unnecessary project,” said Moviment Graffitti which has also called on Minister Borg ‘to protect his own constituents from the arrogant tactics employed by his own agency and its CEO’, otherwise, they will be forced to step up their own actions, warned the NGO.