Plans have been submitted for yet another fuel station outside development zones, this time in Żebbuġ, amid a continued lack of progress on a promised policy review.

The application, formally published by the Planning Authority on Wednesday, seeks to “relocate” an existing fuel station from Ta’ Xbiex to a site of around 3,000 square metres of agricultural land off Mdina Road, Żebbuġ.

The facility would include a workshop, retail shop, offices and car wash.

The proposal, which is open to public consultation until November 30 and still subject to assessment by the PA, is expected to be decided in February.

The Żebbuġ site is about 500 metres away – as the crow flies, though further by road – from another site on Mdina Road, Attard, also earmarked for a new fuel station.

Still pending, the Attard application has drawn the criticism of the Environment and Resources Authority, which said there was “no justification for the further loss of undeveloped rural land and associated environmental impacts to accommodate such commercial use”.

There are already three fuel stations between Mdina Road, in Attard, and Saqqajja, in Rabat, one just 500 metres away by the access road to Mount Carmel Hospital. The developers have argued that none of these are situated along the same carriageway, in the Rabat-to-Valletta direction.

The planning watchdog turned down a similar application for a fuel station further down Mdina Road, in Żebbuġ last May as it was located less than 500 metres – the minimum distance under current policy – from the nearest existing facility.

The ERA had warned that the proposal, on once agricultural land used as an ad hoc car park, would increase development pressures in the nearby countryside.

The new applications are among several being considered despite the ongoing review of the controversial fuel stations policy, under which they are being processed.

The review was announced in January and, in April, the ERA submitted its proposals for the new policy, including an outright ban on new fuel stations in ODZ areas.

There has been no word since on when the new policy will be announced. Several new applications have meanwhile been submitted and others have been decided.

The government has already announced that the new policy will not apply to pending applications, which will continue to be assessed under the existing, more permissive, regulations.

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