Plans for another new fuel station outside the development zone have drawn objections from the Environment and Resources Authority, citing the project’s “adverse environmental impact”.
The application by Ħal Mann Vellsix Group seeks to demolish a small rural structure on agricultural land in Triq L-Imġarr, Mġarr, and build facilities including an auto parts shop, cafeteria, car wash, fuel pumps and garages.
The site is just 1.5 kilometres away from another planned fuel station on the same road.
The ERA has called the proposal “unacceptable” and said it raised “significant environmental concern in view of the scale of the proposed interventions”, which would take up undeveloped rural land for urban or commercial uses and result in “further deterioration of the landscape”.
The regulator also said that approving the development would introduce new “urban-type/commercial-type activities not considered essential or compatible with the surrounding natural area”. The proposal is now subject to an environmental impact assessment.
A permit for another fuel station on Triq L-Imġarr, which will relocate an existing station in Mġarr Square, was granted in 2012, and excavation has already taken place. The permit was up for renewal last year, though it is still listed on the Planning Authority’s server as under assessment.
The new Ħal Mann application, comprising an entirely new facility, was submitted last August and is still being screened by the PA.
It is the latest in a series of applications for new or relocated fuel stations on ODZ land which have raised the concerns of environmental groups and prompted calls for the revision of the fuel service stations policy introduced in 2015.
The PA granted permission for a new station in Burmarrad, just 450 metres away from the nearest similar facility, last July. This was followed by another in Marsascala (relocating a fuel station from Floriana) in December. Last week it approved the relocation of a kerbside Mosta fuel station to Magħtab. The application was rejected in 2016 before a court ordered the PA to reconsider it.
It was earmarked for refusal once again by the PA in December before a surprising reversal green-lit the project this month.
In all three cases, objections by the ERA (or its predecessor, the Environment Protection Directorate) were overruled.
Transport Minister Ian Borg on Wednesday told Parliament that 67 applications for new petrol stations had been made between 2013 and 2017. Of these 43 have been approved by the Planning Authority.
He gave the information in response to a Parliamentary Question by MP Karol Aquilina.