Developers’ lobby miffed by protestors’ action inside Planning Authority

Developers’ lobby says it disagreed with the PA’s fuel pump policy but condemned protestors’ action that disrupted the PA meeting

Malta’s construction lobby has “condemned” a protest by Graffitti and Kamp Emergenza Ambjent activists that upstaged a meeting of a Planning Authority board.

The board was debating yet another request for the relocation of an urban petrol pump into a larger area outside development zones in Luqa.

The Malta Developers Association said that “issues such as this” should not bring about “illegal pressure” on PA board members.

The protest involved activists unfurling a banner in the middle of the PA boardroom, accusing the PA of mandating unbridled construction in the Maltese countryside and areas outside the building zones.

The controversial fuel pump policy allows urban petrol pumps to be relocated to larger stations with areas up to 3,000 square metres in areas outside building zones.

The mushrooming of the ODZ petrol pump station has irked residents and environmentalists, who see the policy as an excuse to allow larger development of petrol pumps and convenience stores on major artery roads.

In a statement, the MDA said that “all decisions need to be taken in serenity without any type of pressure”.

On Thursday the activists forced the Planning Authority board to temporarily abandon a meeting that was to discuss a permit for a new petrol station in Luqa. Police were called in to manage the situation. Protesters urged the Planning Authority to stop petrol station applications until the fuel stations policy is revised, as promised by Environment Minister José Herrera.

READ MORE: Minister to publish ERA report on fuel station policy next week

The MDA said it has “always condemned developers who take the law in their hands and that the rule of law should apply to everybody”, and that while it recognised people’s right to protest and be heard, it condemned the way the activists acting. “The manner in which these activists behaved excluded the possibility of a fair hearing about the development application being considered,” MDA said.

MDA said that it had not agreed with the policy proposed for petrol stations when this was open for public consultation, “while others did not realise how detrimental this policy would be to the environment. While agreeing that some policies, including that on petrol stations, should be revised, one has to consider the rights of those who invest money in property and apply for development according to existing policies to ensure that there is no discrimination or injustice in their regard.”