The Planning Authority has approved an extension to a fuel station in Marsascala, just across the road from the family park.

In a statement on Thursday, ADPD said the extension was “double the size” of what residents had strongly objected to in 2019. The station was located across the road from the Family Park, a favourite area of relaxation for people in the south.

ADPD said that on the assumption that the land in question is not arable, the Environment and Planning Tribunal (EPRT) approved an additional 1,200 square metres of agricultural land to include an enlarged retail outlet, larger offices, four massive garages including a VRT centre, panel beating and mechanic services as well as larger area next to a previously approved car wash.

Both the Planning Authority as well as the Environment and Resources Authority had objected to this expansion for several reasons, including that this breaches the petrol stations’ policy and the increased land area was excessive.

ERA had insisted that “there is no further justification for the further loss of rural land and associated environmental impacts to accommodate such extension for commercial use”.

ADPD candidate Brian Decelis said that once again this appeal seems to have been granted when it could least be noticed, in the middle of an electoral campaign.

This echoed what had happened with the marina proposal issued at the peak of summer.

“Did they think that the people of Marsascala would not have noticed,” Decelis asked.

He pointed out that the original permit was granted because the development requested had been reduced.

The location of the station will impede the flow of traffic in and out of Marsascala as well as for those who want to visit the Family Park. Moreover, there seems to have been scant consideration of the residents who live just metres away, he noted.

ADPD chairman Carmel Cacopardo said PL donors appeared to be behind the development so the question of what impact political party donations were having on decisions such as this one arose once again.

This, he said, is the reason behind ADPD’s proposals in the electoral manifesto that business and public administration should keep their distance at all times and that the limit allowed for single donations to political parties is decreased from €25,000 to €5,000.

Cacopardo said he could not understand how more permits for such stations are being issued at a time when people are encouraged to convert to vehicles that do not use such fuel.

“What is going to happen with these tracts of land once a number of the petrol stations that have mushroomed over the past year no longer remain viable,” he asked.

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