The Nationalist Party has denounced as “bogus” the fuel station policy revision which has been in the offing since the turn of last year, saying changes proposed so far will still result in the loss of agricultural land.
In a statement, the party criticised the proposed changes, saying they do not address loopholes related to relocation of existing stations, their permissible footprint and their use once the changeover to electric cars starts.
The policy revision was on the agenda of a parliamentary committee meeting last Monday at the request of the Opposition.
During this meeting it was decided that the proposed revised policy - launched in January last year - should be sent back to the Planning Authority for the third time, as it was felt that crucial issues were not adequately addressed.
The decision prompted criticism from environmental groups that further delay would mean that pending applications would be decided on basis of the existing lenient policy.
In its reaction the PN noted that following two draft versions and a public consultation period which closed last June, there was no provision yet to limit the minimum distance between fuel stations. Moreover, existing stations could still be relocated to sites outside the development zones with a maximum footprint of 3,000 square metres. There were no safeguards to prevent existing commercial sites from being turned into a fuel station, the statement read.
Furthermore, the lack of provisions on the future use of existing stations once fossil fuel vehicles started being phased out, meant that the government was more intent on speculating land than safeguarding the environment, the PN said.