Service station extension ‘unnecessary’ – NGO
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Service station extension ‘unnecessary’ – NGO

Plans to extend ODZ petrol station even before it is built

The application for the extension of the fuel station is expected to be decided in December.

The application for the extension of the fuel station is expected to be decided in December.

“Piecemeal” plans to extend an ODZ fuel station in Marsascala, submitted before the facility has even been built, have raised the concerns of the Environment and Resources Authority.

The Planning Authority controversially issued a permit for a fuel station on 1,500 square metres of agricultural land in Triq Sant’Antnin, last December, overruling the ERA’s objections, but the developers returned in May with a new application to extend the facility by another 1,000 square metres.

In a pre-screening opinion on the proposed extension, the environment watchdog expressed concern over the take-up of even more undeveloped land outside development zones.

“As well as being located on agricultural land, ERA considers that there is no valid justification for the further loss of rural land and associated environmental impacts, including cumulative environmental impacts to accommodate such commercial use,” the authority said.

No valid justification for the further loss of rural land

ERA this week published for consultation an update to the environmental statement for the fuel station, prepared by the developers, which concludes that the extension “will not have a significant impact on the environment beyond what was already assessed” in the first application.

The statement, nevertheless, acknowledges that the extension would increase the construction period by two months – prolonging the exposure of the surrounding agricultural land to dust – and double the amount of rock to be excavated.

The extension plans have already received a thumbs-down from the Marsascala local council, which voted last month to oppose the extension, despite having supported the original application.

Din L-Art Ħelwa is also objecting to the extension, which it said was completely unnecessary due to the abundance of fuel stations around the island – as well as exposing residents to more pollution.

The application, expected to be decided by the PA in December, comes amid continued delays in the completion of a promised review of the Fuel Service Stations Policy.

ERA proposals for the review would limit the size of fuel stations to 2,000 square metres (as well as banning new facilities on ODZ land), a threshold the Marsascala station would exceed after the extension.

But the government has already said pending applications would continue to be decided under the existing, more permissive policy, which allows fuel stations of up to 3,000 square metres.

The applicant, Patrick Guntrip, is also currently seeking permission for a shopping complex in a disused quarry a few hundred metres from the fuel station site.

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