Maghtab petrol station application set to be refused by PA

Original application was turned down last year

File photo: Shutterstock

File photo: Shutterstock

The Planning Authority is set to reject plans for controversial petrol station in Magħtab, confirming a decision taken last year but which it was ordered by an appeals tribunal to reconsider.

In a preliminary vote today, the PA board voted by six to two to stick by its original decision and reject the plans to demolish two derelict farmhouses and build a fuel station with an electric car charging station, car wash, shop, car mechanic workshop, stores and a parking area.

A formal decision will be taken in the coming weeks.

PA chairman Vince Cassar, who voted against the application today, said the proposal was unacceptable due to the take-up of around 3,500 square metres of ODZ land, the development’s visual impact, as well as doubts over whether the site area was in line with the fuel stations policy.

Read: PD calls for fuel station policy to be revisited

Residents had long complained that the development, on a triangular plot of land between Triq is-Salina and Trejqet l-Arznu, Naxxar, near the T’Alla u Ommu hill, would bring with it a host of environmental issues including rural deterioration and noise pollution, as well as problems of traffic, safety and flooding.

Objections were also raised by the Naxxar local council and the Mepa Environment Protection Directorate, on the basis that the proposed development was “located in a predominantly open and undeveloped rural area and involves excessive land take-up”.

The PA board rejected the proposal in March 2016 on the basis of SPED policy (Strategic Plan for Environment and Development) provisions which aim to protect and enhance the positive qualities of the landscape and the traditional components of the rural landscape.

But the planning appeals tribunal, in a decision later confirmed by the Court of Appeal, ordered that the application be reconsidered, ruling that the PA had not explained why the SPED should take precedence over the 2015 fuel stations policy, which allows petrol stations to be relocated to rural areas outside development zones.

Lawyers appearing for applicant Paul Abela of Abel Energy argued today that the fuel stations policy clearly stated that its provisions take precedence over other planning policies, and that the proposal was fully in line with the policy.

ERA chairman Victor Axiak, who also voted against the proposal, said the environmental impacts were too significant to justify the relocation.

There are 69 petrol stations in Malta and eight in Gozo, according to a Parliamentary Question posed by MP Godfrey Farrugia to Energy Minister Joe Mizzi.

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