The Malta Independent 21 September 2019, Saturday

TMID Editorial: Fuel station policy review: Why are we still talking about this?

Monday, 19 August 2019, 11:10 Last update: about 2 months ago

The delay on the fuel station policy is once again coming under scrutiny, with Din L-Art Helwa hitting out at the government for dragging its feet on the situation. This should have been implemented ages ago, so then why are we still talking about it?

The saga surrounding the new fuel station policy has long been drawn out, with consultation for its first revamp having been opened a year and eight months ago – and it shows no sign of reaching a conclusion just yet, for it will now have to undergo a third public consultation period due to changes that have been made to it.

While public consultation is always good, the policy has been a hotly debated topic for years now, and the authorities seem to be moving at a snail’s pace. If there needs to be a third public consultation then by all means go for it, but it is about time that the government and the authorities stop going so slow on this issue and speed up.

Indeed there are already suspicions being aired in public as to why the policy review is taking so long. Din L-Art Helwa for example, said about the length of time taken: “This can be understood in two ways. Firstly, that the government's inability to conclude a brief policy document such as this in a timely manner, reflects a situation of utter incompetence and inefficiency. Alternatively, that the government intentionally prefers not to conclude the revised fuel stations policy, thus allowing current applications to continue to be determined according to the existing policy which is more lax."

In addition, Moviment Graffitti’s Andre Callus had also said, during a recent Environment and Planning Committee meeting that he could not help but worry that there are other interests at play which caused this delay, “a delay during which applications for fuel stations inside ODZ land were evaluated and accepted.”

the Planning Authority is coming under fire recently over conflicts of interest, as was the case in the db Group application with former PA board member Matthew Pace who had been involved in a controversy over the awarding of a permit to the db Group for its project on land in Pembroke previously occupied by ITS.

The public are meant to trust that the Planning Authority know what is best for the country. They are meant to trust that those appointed to the various planning boards will ensure that the country will not turn into some hotchpotch of uneven development, and will also ensure the safeguarding of Malta’s environmental sector. But in all honesty, is the Planning Authority earning that trust?

Malta also has limited space, and 3,000 sqm fuel stations in the middle of ODZ land does not exactly help Malta’s countryside, nor its ever shrinking agricultural sector. Such stations also add to Malta’s car-use mentality. There are other areas such stations can be built on, such as in industrial areas. At that, trading in a one pump station for a 3,000sqm station in ODZ land is not exactly a fair trade. Yes, moving the stations out of residential areas is very important, but stations then growing to have shops, multiple car washes etc on land in our countryside adds to overdevelopment.

  • don't miss