Are you ready to read an unsurprising sentence? Malta’s Planning Authority, the defender of virgin Maltese land, has once again approved a set of developments on Outside Development Zone (ODZ) land.
The 1,500 square metre plot of land in Marsascala will include a fuel station, offices, a shop, two garages and a VRT and car service facility. It will be situated opposite the popular Marsascala Family Park.
This latest approval comes after the Environment and Resources Authority chairman Victor Axiak as well as eNGO representative Annick Bonello both objected to the project.
The applicant, Patrick Guntrip, was able to apply for a development like this in ODZ land as a result of the ‘Fuel Stations Policy’ introduced in 2015, allowing petrol stations to relocate to ODZ land. An older petrol station in Floriana will now close down in anticipation of the move to Marsascala.
It was also recommended that the developers pay a one-time ‘planning gain’ of €50,000 after the project’s approval.
Environmental groups such as Din l-Art Ħelwa and Front Ħarsien ODZ have called out following the PA’s approval of the development, calling it “shocking and shameful.”
Andre Callus, a founding member of Kamp Emergenza Ambjentali, spoke to Lovin Malta about why this development just doesn’t make sense for the area.
“Adding to the ubiquitous monstrous buildings all over our small island, Maltese landscape is now also becoming dotted with useless, massive, petrol stations (although the word “petrol station” is in itself a misnomer since these often look more like shopping complexes),” said Andre.
“A petrol station in Marsascala is completely useless, considering the number of petrol stations in the surrounding areas,” he continued. “These permits also contradict official Government statements saying that Malta is to phase out the use of cars that run on petrol/diesel.”
Andre points to loopholes that are allowing for these abuses to occur.
“Unfortunately, all this is symptomatic of changes in ODZ rules a few years ago that made this, and other, developments possible. It is also the result of a Planning Authority which is a loyal servant to political interests and consistently serves the interest of the few wealthy developers at the expense of the rest. The Planning Authority and our political class will be remembered for destroying our quality of life and ruining our future on this island. They should be ashamed, and the people have every reason to be outraged,” he said.
KEA’s objections add to the Environment and Resources Authority’s objections to the approved development. The ERA said that their studies showed that the development would most likely have negative environmental impacts, even with safety measures enacted.
It will also have a negative visual impact on the picturesque area, as well as add pollution to the local sea-level aquifer.
The Planning Directorate said that the visual impact could be negated if they painted the buildings in “earth colours” and was quoted as saying the chosen location was “the most compliant and adequate location for the proposed development”.
It’s only a matter of time until a petrol station will be designated for the centre of Ta’ Qali national park, with an official recommendation to paint it in “leafy colours”.