Gżira mayor Conrad Borg Manché will do all he can to stop the relocation of a petrol station to the locality’s largest green space.
After his initial appeal to stop the moving of the petrol station was dismissed last week, Borg Manché and the local council will be taking the matter to the Courts of Justice in a new appeal.
The petrol station, which is located on the foreshore of Manoel Island, is set to be relocated to the Council of Europe gardens just 100 metres away as part of a road-widening project that will see Regional Road connected to the Gżira front.
“If the road widening had to happen today, I would be completely against it,” Borg Manché told Lovin Malta.
“The number of cars that pass through Rue d’Argens make it the most polluted place in Malta. We need to start to think of the people rather than cars.”
Borg Manché also claims that the widening project, which was first proposed in 1999, would also be unrealistic given current real estate developments in its proposed path.
It’s also an issue considering the fact that the application for the relocation for the station bypassed the local council vote.
“The local council is supposed to have a vote on the Environmental Impact Assessment of the project before it goes to the planning authority, but in this case it didn’t,” he continued.
“We were not informed of the application to relocate. In fact, it’s not just a relocation, it’s an expansion five times its size.”
The new petrol station will fill up an area covering 930 square metres of the park, roughly 300 square metres more than its current size.
However, Borg Manché believes it’s much more than that.
“According to the site plan, the petrol station is much less 210 square metres when measuring the same area with google earth,” he said.
As such, the petrol station would take up a good chunk of the Council of Europe gardens, destroying two oak trees and an olive tree in their process. In their stead, five oak trees and 10 olive trees will be planted in the garden.
If these plans go through, Gżira will be deprived of its only green space and will experience an increase in pollution in tandem with the road widening project.
Not only that, but the relocation would also put the petrol station within the vicinity of three other stations up the road, meaning that Gżira will be getting four petrol stations within a space of 500 metres, breaching fuel station policy according to Borg Manché.
The mayor also contends that, like other relocation projects, an alternative site plan exercise should have been carried out to determine a suitable location for the station.
But if he had to have it his way it would be far, far away from the locality.
“There is no option for them here. It’s better for them to relocate elsewhere given the population, pollution and the fact that there are already three other petrol stations,” he said.
The Gżira mayor also committed to fighting tooth and nail so as not to see the relocation of the petrol station in the garden.
“Green spaces are the most needed areas in our locality. They’ve ruined our promenade for the past 70 years. No one from the locality wants the petrol station where it is or in the garden.”