[WATCH] AD calls for the resignation of José Herrera over land reclamation put-down

Alternattiva Demokratika appeals to the government and the Planning Authority to set a moratorium on all pending fuel station applications until a revised policy becomes law

Alternattiva Demokratika said that the revised Fuel Stations Policy allowed for emergent loopholes
Alternattiva Demokratika said that the revised Fuel Stations Policy allowed for emergent loopholes
Carmel Cacopardo insists revised fuel station policy contains serious loopholes

Alternattiva Demokratika has called for the resignation of Environment Minister José Herrera for his comments on Monday on land reclamation, admonishing a Xghajra resident for raising concerns.

“Malta needs a good environment minister and not someone who resorts to such ridiculous justifications,” Cacopardo said. “He should leave as soon as possible. The environment minister should be the foremost person with the environment at heart and this couldn't be further from the truth.”

During a meeting of Parliament’s environment committee on Monday, Herrera insisted that land reclamation should be done to enhance the country’s open spaces and even went so far as to admonish those concerned.

“Don’t tell me you are against land reclamation because you have a sea view that will be lost,” he told a Xghajra resident. “It will be done for environmental purposes… we need to take a long-term view that benefits society.”

READ ALSO: Environment Minister: 'Don’t tell me you are against land reclamation because you have a sea view that will be lost’

Cacopardo's call for Herrera's resignation came at an AD press conference on the proposed fuel stations policy unveiled recently. 

Speaking in front of the PA building in Floriana, Cacopardo said it was good that the revised document proposed that no agricultural land be taken up by development but it also left considerable loopholes.

“It leaves huge loopholes in that it would allow the Planning Authority to consider for development existing ODZ structures not linked to agriculture. This is unacceptable,” Cacopardo said.

He also criticised the revised policy draft for omitting to mention the minimum acceptable distance between petrol stations, something that was delineated in the unrevised policy.

“Currently, it is permissible for fuel service stations to be constructed in designated industrial areas, small and medium enterprise sites, areas of containment, open storage sites and other areas subject to a minimum site coverage of 3,000sq.m.,” Cacopardo said.

He added that these sites are subject to a Development Notification Order (DNO), a much shorter process that is exempted from a full development application. The public at large has a very short time to object to such projects.

“The limit has been removed in these areas, and the sky is the limit in such cases. There is no justification for large fuel stations and that a maximum size of 1,000sq.m., including an area for landscaping, should be more than enough,” AD said.

Cacopardo argued that in two years, Malta would have its fill of fuel stations that would no longer be utilised, if the government was aiming for the electrification of transport.

While AD called for a moratorium on all pending fuel stations until the revised policy passes into law, the green party said that current petrol stations in urban areas should become charging stations for electric cars if the government was serious about this alternative.

“Rather than this revision, the government should have opted for a direction towards electric transport. It would be achieving more with less, especially if it aims to see fewer cars on the road.

“There are other practical measures such as the 4,500 e-sharing electric cars on the island—users don’t need to buy an expensive electric vehicle. They can resort to e-sharing.”