Minister to publish ERA report on fuel station policy next week

Environment Minister Jose Herrera said he received a draft report on changes to the fuel station policy and it is being analysed • Opposition environment spokesperson calls for suspension of current policy pending its review

Environment minister Jose Herrera had asked the ERA to carry out a review of the 2015 Fuel Station Policy
Environment minister Jose Herrera had asked the ERA to carry out a review of the 2015 Fuel Station Policy

Environment Minister Jose Herrera will be publishing the findings from a review of the 2015 Fuel Station policy next week, after first assessing the document.

Herrera was responding to questions by MaltaToday after Moviment Graffitti and Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent this morning held a protest during a planning board meeting which was discussing a permit for a new petrol station in Luqa.

The protesters urged the Planning Authority to stop petrol station applications until the fuel stations policy is revised. The revision was promised by Herrera earlier this year.

Asked whether he supported the NGOs’ call, Herrera stressed that he had called on the Environment and Resources Agency to review the controversial policy. From a legal perspective however, the minister said that one needed to keep the principle of “just expectation” in mind.

He explained that one had to see the legal position of individuals who might have purchased land with the intention of using it for a particular purpose, only to have this possibility taken away through a change of policy.

‘Useless closing the stable door after the horses have bolted’

Opposition environment spokesperson Jason Azzopardi on the other hand said the policy should be suspended with immediate effect.

He said that in one of the last sessions of parliament’s environment committee, he had made a similar appeal and asked the minister how long the revision would take.

“It's useless closing the stable door after the horses have already bolted,” Azzopardi said.

He added that while requesting a review of the policy was reasonable, not suspending pending applications simply meant allowing those that intended to avail themselves of the policy, the opportunity to do so.

Azzopardi also stressed that the current “rape of virgin land” was the direct result of the 2015 policy introduced by the Labour administration.

Read More: Planning Authority board vote on new petrol station ends in a draw

“It's either incompetence or brazen deception,” he said, adding that the current situation was one that could have very easily been anticipated.  

Writing on Facebook, Azzopardi said he had written to the Secretary of the Parliamentary Environment Committee for this item to be on the agenda in the next sitting.

“It’s now evident that the ‘revision’ was another red herring by government, to buy time until all applications are approved,” said Azzopardi.

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