Single petrol pump to be relocated to a much larger ODZ site

The Planning Authority has approved the relocation of a petrol pump in Burmarrad to a fully-blown petrol station on ODZ land

The single petrol pump in Burmarrad will be relocated to a much larger site on ODZ land in the outskirts of the hamlet
The single petrol pump in Burmarrad will be relocated to a much larger site on ODZ land in the outskirts of the hamlet

The Planning Authority board has approved the relocation of one single petrol pump in the built-up area of Burmarrad to a far larger ODZ site.

NGO representative Annick Bonello, PN representative Marthese Portelli, PA Chairman Vince Cassar and Environment and Resources Authority Chairman Victor Axiak voted against. Seven board members voted in favour, including Labour representative Clayton Bartolo.

Although the actual site of the fuel station was reduced from 3,600sq.m. to 1,680sq.m., since landscaping is included in the development, the project will still entail the loss of 3,600sq.m. of agricultural land. The planning gain was raised to reflect this area.

This point was reinforced by Cassar who insisted that landscaping area had to be taken into consideration as agricultural land would still be lost. Cassar also made a cyncial remark on the visuals: "I wonder if this petrol station will have clients as it looks invisible."

The PA’s advisory panel on agriculture had objected to the development due to the good quality of the agricultural land in the area. ERA had objected to the loss of agricultural land.

Lawyer Claire Bonello pointed out that the site was greater than 3,000 sqm insisting that this referred to the area of the site including the landscaping. She also insisted, that the existing policy already precluded the development of good quality agricultural land.

ERA Chairman Victor Axiak insisted that since agricultural advisory committee deemed land to be of good quality, it has to be rejected. He also emphasized that landscaped area should be included in the total area of development.

Architect Stephen Farrugia went as far as presenting a declaration by the EIA consultants, showing that the land is now less productive than it was 10 years ago when the study was held due to dumping by Enemalta. The EIA consultant present in the meetings clarified that the land was now of medium quality.

BirdLife and Graffitti representatives pointed out that another petrol station had already recently been approved in Burmarrad. Board member Annick Bonello pointed out that the new draft policy on petrol stations ruled out permits for fuel pumps at a distance of less than 1,500m from each other. This would have ruled out this application, which is at a distance of 1,200m from the other one, she said.

The project architect insisted that the original kerb side petrol station which has only one pump was proposed for relocation back in 1948.

"The family wanted to invest in a modern facility and decrease nuisance to residenta caused by refuelling at the original site," Farrugia said.

He also appealed to board members to give due consideration to discussions held in the past with the directorate. He also noted that the applicant hailed from Burmarrad and wanted to continue investing in the locality instead of selling the license to others.

Farrugia also presented a ‘petition’ by 200 residents who signed a declaration given to them by the developer expressing their agreement with the relocation.

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