The Malta Independent 22 August 2019, Thursday

Transport Minister Ian Borg expects to receive the fuel station policy review soon

Kevin Schembri Orland Tuesday, 12 February 2019, 08:51 Last update: about 7 months ago

Transport Minister Ian Borg expects to receive the fuel station policy review from the Planning Authority soon, he told The Malta Independent.

Transport and Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg was asked for updates on the fuel station policy review and when the final draft will be issued for public consultation. The minister said that the final discussions in the PA’s Executive Council were held and he expects to receive it soon. “We arrived at the last phase.” Asked whether this will take weeks or months he said weeks.

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After the minister receives the policy, there will be a public consultation, and it will eventually be adopted, he said.

The fuel stations policy is currently under review following public uproar over the number of fuel station applications being filed with the Planning Authority. In addition, many questioned why so many petrol and diesel pumps were needed when the government had already indicated its intention to move the country towards electric vehicles. The review proposals, as presented by the ERA, proposed that fuel stations will have to be at least 1.5 kilometres apart. The current distance limit between any station is 500 metres. The proposals by the ERA, if accepted as is, would also mean that the footprint is reduced from the current 3,000 to 2,000 square metres, among other things. The PA has been working on the policy review since last summer, and criticism has been made with regard to the length of time this review is taking. A number of fuel station applications had sparked protests by NGOs.

Asked whether he is expecting many of the proposals made by the Environment and Resources Authority last year on the fuel station policy review to be included in the Planning Authority’s draft, the minister said that relocations of fuel stations within the village cores to ODZ will remain. “We know how many fuel stations remain in our village cores, and so we know how many relocations we can have. Another issue was on the size of stations. The current policy states that stations can be built up to 3,000sqm in size, and for everyone this meant 3,000sqm. I noted, and I am not pleased by it, that the Planning Authority was even granting them... It doesn’t mean that the PA has to approve 3,000sqm if the policy says up to 3,000sqm. That amount is going to reduce substantially.”

The GRTU recently told this newsroom in an episode of Indepth that it welcomes a discussion of the fuel station policy review. The union represents a number of fuel station operators. The GRTU said that discussions were still ongoing regarding the policy, and that the union did not agree with everything being discussed. She said that for Malta, there are enough fuel stations, but understands that the market must remain open. “It is a good step that government felt the need to re discuss the policy,” CEO Abigail Mamo had said.

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