Eleven NGOs are indignant at the Planning Authority’s failure to revise the current fuel stations policy and at comments indicating that, when revised, the new policy might still allow ODZ fuel stations.
The lengthy saga concerning the highly controversial 2015 Fuel Service Stations Policy seems destined to continue as one year and two months have passed since the review was promised by the authorities and yet the public still has no answer as to why the policy revision has not been seen to. It is also disconcerting that Planning Minister Ian Borg stated that, after all, the revised policy might still allow ODZ fuel stations. Despite repeated calls by citizens, NGOs and the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) to remove the possibility of ODZ fuel stations, the authorities seem to be adamant on maintaining it. The ERA’s recommendations, directly requested by the Ministry for the Environment, clearly stated that: “ODZ sites shall not be potential candidate sites for new or relocated fuel stations.”
We are in agreement with moving fuel stations away from urban centres, but not on ODZ, since alternative, non-greenfield sites can be found.
The current policy allows for the development of both new and relocated fuel stations on up to 3,000m² of agricultural and natural land designated as ODZ. There are 14 applications for ODZ fuel stations, with four having been accepted already and the others still being processed, covering a total area equal to five times the Floriana Granaries. Additionally, the two applications for ODZ fuel stations withdrawn on the 26th February by the applicants may be re-submitted at a later stage. In fact, as this review continues to extend beyond any reasonable deadline, applications for such projects continue to be submitted, jeopardising the country’s rapidly-decreasing ODZ land.
We strongly believe that every passing day is crucial to the safeguarding of our islands from predatory commercial interests that seek to exploit natural and agricultural land for their own profit, and that the current fuel stations policy is extremely detrimental. A revised fuel stations policy, one which prohibits ODZ fuel stations, needs to be implemented at once.
Signed by the following NGOs:
Moviment Graffitti, Din l-Art Helwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Nature Trust Malta, Futur Ambjent Wieħed, Bicycle Advocacy Group, Isles of the Left, Ramblers Association, Birdlife Malta and Żminijietna