Second renewal bid for Mgarr fuel pump relocation

Mġarr petrol station seeks second-time renewal of relocation permit to agricultural land

The owners of a small petrol station in the heart of Mġarr Square have applied to renew a permit first issued in 2011, and renewed in 2018, to relocate to a 2,400sq.m plot of agricultural land outside development zones along Triq l-Imġarr.

The ODZ land was subsequently excavated after the 2011 permit, but the works were never concluded. Neither were the works concluded after the permit was renewed again in 2018.

The original application was approved before the introduction of the fuel services station policy allowing the relocation of existing petrol stations from urban areas to the ODZ in 2015. The same policy has now been scrapped and replaced by a stricter policy which no longer permits the take up of agricultural land and limits the size of petrol stations to 1000 sq.m.

Permits issued by the Planning Authority are only valid for five years. Any renewal has to be considered under current policies, which presently do not allow fuel stations to be relocated on agricultural land.

But in 2018, the renewal application was not assessed according to the 2015 rules on petrol stations, because the PA had already issued a commencement notice for works after the 2011 permit was issued. If the same reasoning is applied now, the new petrol station will still be allowed, despite the present ban on the relocation of petrol stations to agricultural land.

The original permit foresaw the erection of a fuel station with an adjoining showroom and workshop, car wash and parking spaces over 2,406sq.m of agricultural land.

When the original permit was issued in 2011, environmental groups argued that the relocation would relieve one area of an eyesore and health hazard, only to inflict it elsewhere. However, the Mġarr council and several residents supported the move, insisting that the main square was not an appropriate place for the petrol station.

The original permit included a condition for the removal of an illegal storage yard and tented workshop area close to the existing fuel station, for which enforcement notices had been issued in 2006. This requirement was not met, although most of the illegal site was cleared in 2017. In 2018 the board voted by six votes to three in favour of renewing the permit for another five years.