The Planning Authority on Thursday controversially approved the building of another fuel station in Burmarrad, just five days before the expected publication of a revision of the fuel stations policy.
The approval will see a kerbside fuel station in the village centre being relocated to a field outside the development zone on Triq Burmarrad. The plans also include a car wash, a retail outlet and parking spaces.
The PA’s latest decision comes amid a long-promised review of the controversial fuel stations policy, ordered by Environment Minister José Herrera in January 2018 to minimise the burden on agricultural land.
Amid protests by environmental activists, Transport Minister Ian Borg pledged to publish the revised document for public consultation by the end of this month.
The application for the new fuel station was submitted by Bonnici Stores Ltd in 2007. Two previous applications for a filling station and a fuel station on the same site had already been rejected in 1995 and 1997.
In the latest assessment, the environment regulator had warned: “There is no valid justification for the further loss of undeveloped land outside the development zone boundary, along with the associated environmental impacts to accommodate such use.”
When the application was first submitted, the Environment Protection Directorate had also warned the proposed development was not “simply a relocation to a safer location but is a major expansion ODZ with rather extravagant land take-up”.
But the PA approved the development with four votes against and seven votes in favour. Opposition representative Marthese Portelli, environmental NGO representative Annick Bonello, Environmental authority chairman Victor Axiak, and PA chair Vince Cassar all voted against.
Speaking prior to the vote, lawyer Claire Bonello, representing Front Ħarsien ODZ insisted the current fuel station policy did not allow relocation to areas with good agricultural land.
Moviment Graffitti representative Robert Fenech also pointed out another fuel station was already located on the same lane.