Mepa consults on open storage policies
Mepa has issued public consultation documents for policies on open parking/storage of vehicles, heavy vehicles, trailers, plant and machinery, buses and coaches in Malta and Gozo.
The policies will also cover hard standing facilities for boats and other marine vessels, batching plants, tarmac plants and other construction related plant equipment which requires open storage.
Other uses will include waste recycling facilities including scrapyard facilities; waste processing facilities including End of Life Vehicles, storage of waste; fuel storage; relocated petrol stations; container storage; siting of renewable energy infrastructure; storage of construction materials and/or processing and/or storage of any other goods, materials or equipment deemed acceptable to Mepa.
The open air storage facilities need to retain a predominantly open air nature. "Facilities, including demountable facilities, purported to be required to provide shelter or security to the storage and whose erection requires development permission are not deemed to maintain the predominantly open air nature of the relevant area and should therefore not be permitted on sites designated for open air storage," the document says.
Proposed Open Storage Facilities may need to be subject to a risk assessment to ensure compatibility with adjacent proposed and existing land uses. Furthermore there may be operational permit requirements which go beyond the scope of this policy guidance.
The document says Mepa may favourably consider the location of open air storage facilities in any of the following locations:
* Land zoned for industry/warehousing in approved development plans provided that the open air storage facility is ancillary to an industrial/warehousing use.
* Disused quarries not identified for other purposes in approved development plans.
* Areas of Containment as identified in approved Local Plans.
* Land designated for open storage areas in Local Plans.
In all cases, these are subject to environmental constraints, neighbour compatibility, operational considerations, infrastructural considerations (including access and adequacy of access roads) and safety considerations.
Also included is land having a valid Mepa permit to accommodate obnoxious industrial uses, such as batching and tarmac plants, and land having a valid operational licence (police) to accommodate the parking/storage of heavy commercial vehicles, plant, machinery and other equipment.
In view of the specific characteristics of the Gozo and Comino Local Plan (GCLP) area disturbed land as per the provisions of the Open Storage Areas Policy for Gozo will also be considered for open storage facilities.
The sites should be within the 2,000 to 10,000 sq. m range. They may not be good quality agricultural land including land irrigated from naturally occurring sources of water. The sites must not be located within or adversely affect scheduled, listed, designated, or protected areas including the sides of valleys and ridges, where the development would break an undisturbed skyline.
Nor can they adversely affect trees or landscape features, which make an important contribution to the flora and fauna and/or character of the area.
Operations on contaminated sites will only be allowed following their decontamination.
Land for open storage should be located close to the arterial and distributor road network and to existing infrastructure.
Unless backed by a risk assessment which states otherwise, development should be at least 100 m away from residential areas and rural settlements identified in approved development plans.
Where marine vessel storage is contemplated, the minimum distance shall increase to a minimum of 200 m.
The compatibility of locating an open storage area needs to be subject of a risk assessment to ensure that the proposed activity is compatible with land uses in the vicinity.