Joint statement by ERA and Infrastructure Malta
The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) is closely following Infrastructure Malta’s ongoing repair works of sections of the rural road at Wied Qirda, to ensure the protection of this area of high natural importance.
Infrastructure Malta confirms that it is collaborating with the Authority in all stages of this infrastructural investment, so that the required works to restore the safety of the indicated road are carefully implemented, using methods that do not endanger the area’s long-term environmental sustainability. Moreover, once the road repair works are completed, it will contribute to the regeneration of this valley with all necessary interventions specified by the same Authority.
The Agency clarifies that its works in this part of the road during the last few months were required due to the necessary replacement of the pre-existing asphalt surface within the road width, and the structural repair of a short stretch of the same road which had collapsed during various storms. These repairs include the excavation of existing foundations, building of new retaining walls on stronger footings and the replacement of an adjacent road crossing to avoid further storm damages in the future. The road crossing, including a dam formed decades ago, was blocking the natural flow of water in this part of the valley. The Authority and the Agency confirm that its removal can be a way to enhance the valley system and enable the regeneration of this part of the valley to its natural state, whilst reducing the impact of water erosion on the road alongside the valley.
The Environment and Resources Authority notes that the Stop and Enforcement Order issued in November 2019 was not meant to stop the works permitted by law to repair the road and render it safe to the public, but to request that it is informed on the methodology of works and to ensure least impact on the environment. The Authority issued this Order to make sure that any other works in this area, if required, are carried out in strict adherence to approved method statements, and that the contractors involved recognise the ecological importance of this area and reduce any negative impacts with appropriate mitigation measures. Moreover, the Order was issued so that plans for any non-urgent works commissioned by the Agency in this area are analysed by its environment protection officers before they are carried out.
The Authority also notes that when the Enforcement Order was issued, it informed the Agency that in another section of the same road, a 70 square metre area of disturbed land outside the pre-existing footprint had been asphalted. Infrastructure Malta’s contractors immediately complied and this asphalt was removed within a few days.
In another section of this road, additional road foundation and rubble wall reconstruction works are needed to repair damages caused by a truck that accidentally overturned on the side of the road during the resurfacing works late last year. Whilst these repairs are necessary, they do not constitute a public safety risk. In fact, Infrastructure Malta has not yet carried out these works. The Authority will consider these works together with the rest, to evaluate the intervention in its entirety with method statements and related plans, so that it can propose any additional protective measures. Repair works in this section of the road will commence in the coming weeks, when final method statements are confirmed and approved.
When all road works are completed, the Authority will continue to monitor the area to verify that Infrastructure Malta reinstates the valley to its natural state. In this regard, any reinstatement works required will also be implemented by Infrastructure Malta.