Heritage watchdog ‘surprised’ fuel stations still considered despite policy review

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage expressed 'apprehension' at such a development, insisting that the planning, management and protection of Maltese landscapes is to be guided by the principles enshrined in the European Landscape Convention

A protest by Moviment Graffitti against the fuel stations policy, now set for a review
A protest by Moviment Graffitti against the fuel stations policy, now set for a review

The Superintendence for Cultural Heritage has expressed its “surprise” that applications for the development of fuel stations are still being considered, “even during the consultation period for the updated Fuel Stations Policy”.

The Planning Authority recently published a draft new policy effectively bans relocations of petrol stations on agricultural land.

But the new policy set to replace the more liberal policy approved in 2015, is still awaiting approval following a public consultation which expires on 14 June.

Transport minister Ian Borg has already declared that the Planning Authority cannot postpone pending applications to after the new policy is approved, warning that this could lead to court procedures by applicants.

The application on which the Superintendence was making its comments was submitted on 8 May just nine days before the policy revision was announced.

The application proposes the removal of a single, currently disused fuel pump from Pjazza Savina in Rabat, Gozo and to construct a new fuel station outside development zones, including car wash, cafeteria, mechanical shop, tyre service garage, valeting garage and parking area on agricultural land in the limits of Birzebbuga.

The Superintendence expressed concern on the scale and intensity of development  proposed outside the buildinh zones and the detrimental effect this will have on the natural and cultural landscape.

“The Maltese landscape is the result of interaction between natural and human activity from which it takes on cultural significance. The perception of such landscapes recognises the scenic value and is an important element of the Maltese national and cultural identity,” it said.

The Superintendence expressed “apprehension” at such a development, insisting that the planning, management and protection of Maltese landscapes is to be guided by the principles enshrined in the European Landscape Convention.

Malta was one of the original signatories of the convention in 2000 but failed to ratify the Convention in 2010 and in subsequent years.

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