The Malta Independent 23 May 2018, Wednesday

PA set to decide on renewal of permit for relocation of Mgarr fuel station onto ODZ land

Kevin Schembri Orland Wednesday, 14 February 2018, 09:05 Last update: about 4 months ago

The Planning Authority Board is set to decide on an application on Thursday which would renew permission for the relocation of a fuel station inside Mgarr, Malta, to the outskirts on land located outside the development zone along Triq Mgarr.

The original application was approved in 2011, however the applicant did not conclude works and as such had to file this renewal application. The site seems, thus far, to have been excavated.  The original application was filed before the introduction of the fuel serviced station policy.

A number of Mgarr residents had turned up for the MEPA meeting back in August 2011 according to media reports from the time, and were in favour of the relocation, arguing that the main square is not a suitable place for the station.  Some NGOs however, argued that the application would relieve one area of an eyesore and health hazard, and inflict it on an area situated on land outside the development zone.

According to the original plans, the new station would include, among other things, fuel pumps, a workshop/mechanic, a display area for the sale of agricultural machinery and tools, an office,  five car parking slots, a car wash platform, a jet wash, a further three car parking slots for staff, and a store.  The plans indicate that the station will have a basement area.

The site area, according to the plans presented with the original application, is 3,754 sqm, and would see a total built area of 2754.83sqm. The Planning Board had, in 2011, voted 6-4 in favour of the application, but according to news reports at the time, then MEPA Chairman Austin Walker said that building petrol stations built outside development zones was not ideal, but that all factors had to be considered.

The case officer has recommended that the application renewal be approved, however has imposed the same conditions as were seen in the original application approval. One such condition, states that prior to the issuing of the development permission, and no later than three months of the approval of this application, the applicant shall enter into a public deed to ensure compliance with certain conditions “which shall be complied with within three (3) years of the issuing of the development permission.” The conditions listed are the closure of the fuel filling service at Mgarr Square including its de-commissioning, decontamination and restoration; the closure of a garage at Sir Harry Luke Street and its change of use to a garage for private cars, and “the closure of the illegal open yard behind Mgarr Square Playing Field and the reinstatement in accordance with the Land remediation Plan to be submitted for the PA’s approval within 6 months of the issuing of this development permission.”

This is not the only fuel station planned for ODZ land in the area. Further down the same stretch of road, a newer application seeks to demolish a small rural structure on agricultural land, and build the construction of proposed car facilities, comprising of an auto-parts shop, fuel pumps, car wash, garages and cafeteria.

The issue of fuel stations on ODZ land has become a topic of conversation recently. Partit Demokratiku MPs Godfrey and Marlene Farrugia had filed a request for the fuel service station policy to be discussed in the Environment and Development Planning committee in Parliament. MPs are now discussing possible changes to the policy, and certain environmentalists are questioning why the construction of new stations are being allowed, when the Prime Minister had already mentioned that he will launch a consultation on Malta's future regarding switching over to electric vehicles. 

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