Reference is being made to an article which was published in the Times of Malta on Tuesday 16th August 2011 under the header ‘Mgarr Petrol Station’s outline permit not valid’. In the article four environmental groups, Ramblers Association, Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Malta Organic Agricultural Movement and Friends of the Earth call on MEPA to immediately revoke the full development permit which was granted last week for the relocation of a petrol station in Mgarr. This group of eNGO, in their statement make a number of incorrect statements amongst which that the outline permit issued in 2006 had expired.
The Authority can confirm that the outline development permit (PA 3920/98) granted on the 02nd March 2006 had not expired. One of the conditions in this development permit required that the applicant, within five years of the date of this permission, had to submit a full development application for the approval of MEPA. This permit condition was adhered to by the applicant on the 21st February 2008, nearly 2 years after the outline permit was granted.
Some two years back, the Authority, in order to facilitate the work of eNGOs, had given them free access to view planning applications and their plans and free credit facility to download case officer reports and permit conditions. The Authority questions the reasons as to why these four eNGOs choose to issue incorrect facts in their media statements when they have all the facility they require to check out any details with the Authority.
While, the Authority recognises that it is not ideal that petrol stations, which are a potential hazard within our village cores, get relocated to ODZ sites, with this particular application MEPA was restricted and legally compelled to issue this permit on this site.
With a 2006 valid outline permit on site, which had been granted following a site selection exercise and an EIA, the Authority also considered that through a public deed, the applicant was being bound not only to shut down and decommission his existing petrol station, but also to dismantle his vehicle servicing garage operation and re-instate a large parcel of agricultural land, situated in an ODZ area near the Parish Church, which was being used as an open storage area for such plant and machinery vehicles. The applicant had also bought the government owned land, at market value, from the Lands Department in 2007.
All the present activities are incompatible within the urban environment and are a health hazard to the local community. No outdoor storage of any such plant and machinery vehicles is permitted.
The group of eNGOs also query how Dr Petra Bianchi, the Director for Environment Protection within MEPA could give this project her ‘blessing’. The Authority reaffirms that both the Environment Protection Directorate and the Planning Directorate, on assessing the full development application, were obliged to recommend this project for approval given that it reflected what was already granted in the 2006 outline permit.