Readers Letter – “Confusion reigns in Qala concerning the possible removal of all trees adorning the church square. A Facebook comment said a permit had already been obtained to remove the palm trees, and it was hoped a permit to remove the other 32 trees would be forthcoming.
However, the development notice says: ‘To upgrade the square with new pavements and street furniture.’ making no reference to the removal of any trees, including the palms.
Root damage and bird droppings are the main reasons given, but these couldn’t down the trees in Victoria’s Independence Square, nor should they in Qala. As with both squares, root damage although present was not significant, and bird droppings can be mitigated by constructing simple shelters over the seats as done in Naxxar, and occasional cleaning by the council.
With the foundation already laid for the new paving, it would not be possible to uproot the trees without damaging the existing balustrade or new paving, leaving only the option of chopping them down.
Qala’s centre is an Urban Conservation Area (UCA). The Planning Authority is meant to give ‘trees within UCA’s a high priority for protection, particularly if there is a perceived threat to the trees or if the Authority considers that the removal of the trees will be detrimental to the overall visual appearance of the UCA.’
Policy RCO4 states that the Planning Authority will not permit the development of any structure or activity which would adversely affect scenic value (due to existing trees or shrubs being affected by that activity).
And Labour’s own manifesto states that ‘we continually look after the existing trees in Maltese towns and villages…..’
Despite this clear outlook to preserve existing trees, a situation has arisen whereby some people are going from door to door trying to get signatures to remove the trees; a “Save Qala’s Trees” Facebook page has been set up (https://www.facebook.com/SaveQalasTrees)’ ;
Father Sultana has stated the trees will not be moved from church property; and there’s a claim saying a permit exists to remove the palms and another awaited for the remaining trees!
What is the true story?”