Planning Authority board refuses Maghtab petrol pump station

Mega fuel petrol station is refused yet again by the Planning Authority board due to incompatibility with Maghtab area

The Planning Authority has rejected a massive 3,500 sqm petrol station controversially sited outside development zones in Maghtab after a tortuous planning saga.

All the PA board members voted against the petrol station.

The latest twist came in the wake of a strategic plan approved in 2018 regulating development in the Maghtab area, which made it clear that the controversial fuel station policy does not apply to this area.

The 2006 local plan had already excluded commercial development in the area, but this was ignored in previous decisions on the petrol pump station.

The Planning Authority’s appeals tribunal (EPRT) had already revoked two previous planning board decisions. In 2016, the PA board refused the permit by 6 votes to three for being in breach of the Strategic Plan for the Environment and Development (SPED). But the EPRT overturned the refusal, arguing that the board failed to explain why SPED policies protecting the rural environment should take precedence over the fuel stations policy, which allow urban pumps to be relocated to ODZ and rural areas.

That permit was brought back to the board in December 2017, with board members first indicating they would be refusing it, only to then vote in favour in January 2018.

But in April 2019 the permit was revoked again by the EPRT for procedural reasons brought up in an appeal presented by residents, namely the PA’s failure to upload documents before the decision was taken.

Abel Energy’s Paul Abela has already demolished two derelict farmhouses over the proposed 3,500 sq.m site on a Salina road intersection near the Alla W Ommu hill. The project includes 500 sq.m of landscaping. The applicant argued that this made his proposal compliant with the fuel stations policy, which limits ODZ petrol stations to 3,000 sq.m sites.

The mega fuel station included a car-wash, mechanic, shop, stores and a 17-car parking lot. Abel Energy had bought the urban pump license in Mosta to present its own application as a relocation. Ironically the relocation will impact a new cluster of residents living in the nearby rural hamlet. 

The area is however designated by the local plan as a rural category settlement whose character has to be preserved. Objectors insist this policy overrules the 2014 fuel stations policy, which was also reiterated within the Maghtab strategy plan approved in 2018. 

The Maghtab decision was the first to be taken since the draft revision of the maligned fuel policy rules. The new rules propose prohibiting petrol stations on agricultural land, and limits ODZ petrol stations instead of existing structures to 1,000 sq.m.

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