Movement Graffiti and Ministers Ian Borg and José Herrera held a confrontational meeting outside the Transport Ministry over the perceived lack of action with the fuel station policy.
Borg and Herrera both revealed that the policy would be tabled within the coming weeks and would satisfy many of the demands made by the activists. It was also revealed that the PA’s executive council shot down ERA’s review on the policy, which recommended to stop all fuel station applications in ODZ.
Herrera also said that the activists’ requests to cease all fuel station applications would be against the law.
“If I did what you are proposing I would be in court by tomorrow, ” Herrera said
Yesterday, the activists set up a self-described ‘siege’ outside the driveway of the Planning Authority in a protest at its petrol station policies.
The petrol station policy allows the relocation of current fuel stations to land outside development zones as well as the construction of entirely new fuel stations on ODZ land.
In January 2018, Environment Minister José Herrera said concerns about the policy’s environmental impact had prompted him to instruct the Environment Authority (ERA) to propose revisions to the PA.
Then in September, the PA confirmed that a specially-appointed team will finalise its review of the policy in the coming days, after which it will be sent to the PA’s Executive Council for its endorsement and then issued for a six weeks public consultation exercise.
While insisting that the policy did have positive aspects, Borg did concede with the activists that certain aspects had to changed, namely the square footage being dished out to fuel station applications on ODZ.
“Just because you have a maximum of 3,000 square metre limit, it does not mean that the PA should just give 3,000 square metre limit,” he said.
“However, there are still 25 fuel stations which need to be relocated outside of town centres, ” he continued.
Borg initially requested for the meeting to be held inside the ministry, however, the activists insisted that every person involved with the protest should be present.
“I don’t even think that the initial policy was done in good faith,” Andre Callus said, adding that he did actually agreed with moving fuel stations outside of town centres. “The consultation period made no reference to the building of fuel stations of ODZ land, instead you went and did behind people’s back.”
The activists said that Maltese society would ultimately judge the Cabinet ministers for their actions or lack thereof, as they shouted chants of “bureaucracy when it suits you”.
Borg disagreed with the analysis, insisting that his Cabinet colleagues and himself were the ones who sought to change the policy.