A proposed fuel station set to be built on Outside Development Zone (ODZ) land in Magħtab has been unanimously refused by the Planning Authority after years of approvals and appeals.
“After interventions from residents, FAA and Moviment Graffitti, the Magħtab fuel station has been unanimously refused by the Planning Authority Board, in a victory for good sense!” the eNGO Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar said in a post following the decision.
The application for the station, which was filed by Paul Abela for Abel Energy, was set to relocate a kerbside station found in Mosta to a new site in Magħtab of over 3,000 square metres. However, it faced heavy criticism from NGOs and local residents.
The objections actually weren’t the reason the Planning Authority rejected the station, but instead the discovery that a new strategic plan for the area approved back in July 2018 specifically ruled out fuel station developments in the area – and they had never seen it.
Upon seeing this plan, the PA rejected the proposal.
An activist who spoke on behalf of Moviment Graffitti and FAA gave an impassioned speech at the Planning Authority earlier today ahead of the rejection
“We strongly object to this development for several reasons. There’s the fact that it takes up an area of over 3000sqm. Taking into account landscaping and the ghost island, which according to your own case officer’s report is an essential and intrinsic part of the project, it’s even larger. Again according to the case officer’s report, this will cause ‘”significant adverse impact on the visual integrity and characteristics of the area’.”
“There’s the fact that this massive area is being taken up not to provide fuel more efficiently, but to make space for a shop, a car wash, space for a mechanic and storage. And this to replace a small kerbside station near residents to replace it with a much larger one also near residents. The carwash aspect should be highlighted too.”
“There are at least three car washes in Mosta. Another 2 in Burmarrad. Another 2 at least in St Paul’s Bay. And these are only the ones I could think of offhand as I was preparing this. Contravening the fuel station policy’s limitation on size to accommodate yet more car washes is manifestly wrong.”
“I am from Mosta, close to that kerbside station. Yes, it’s an inconvenience. Yes, let’s get stations away from the middle of urban areas where they contribute to traffic buildup and pollution. But move them to industrial areas, areas of containment, or the other possibilities mentioned in the policy, and let’s stop building them on ODZ.”
“Finally, the simple fact we are still discussing this matter, months after a review was ordered, a month and a half after the public consultation ended, shows how the new policy is being purposely delayed in order t appease existing developments like this one, even though it will make residents suffer, damage the rural character of the area and increase noise and light pollution in a rural area, and even though it contravenes the same policy it is being based on. For these reasons, we believe the only reasonable action is to refuse the proposal.”