A one-time payment of €50,000 is being proposed as compensation for the environmental impact of a petrol station located opposite the situated Outside Development Zone (ODZ) in Marsaskala.
The payment will be deposited in the Planning Fund, a fund for environmental projects earmarked in localities impacted by development. A similar payment had been imposed when an ODZ petrol station was approved in Burmarrad earlier this year.
The site is being recommended for approval by the Planning Directorate on the basis of a policy regulating the approval of fuel stations in ODZ approved in 2014. A decision will be taken by the Planning Board on 21 December.
The site of the proposed petrol station, which consists of 1,525 square metres of unused agricultural land, is located outside the development zone along Triq Sant’ Antnin,the road which leads from Marsaskala to Żabbar, opposite to the Family Park and the Sant’Antnin Waste Treatment Plant.
The Environmental Resources Authority (ERA) had objected to the development mainly because of the loss of agricultural land, the possibility of spillage of oil fuels in the aquifer during operation.
The Planning Directorate rebutted by saying that the risk of spillage can be addressed through the certification process for the design of the tanks. In ERA’s opinion, the siting of such developments beyond the development zone boundary will set a precedent for the development of similar proposals within the rural area.
The greatest impact on the landscape and visual amenity is envisaged from the belvedere next to Sant’Antnin chapel. But according to the case officer the negative visual impacts, can be mitigated by the use of earth colours in the building’ colour scheme.
This petrol station is being proposed as a replacement for a smaller kerb side petrol station on Floriana.
The applicant claims that Marsaskala was chosen because of the lack of fuel stations in the area. According to the South Malta Local Plan, the site in question is listed as an Area of Agricultural Value.
However, according to a site justification report presented by the developer the site in question consists of abandoned agricultural land and was deemed to be more adequate than other alternatives indicated in this report.
The Agriculture Advisory Committee also described the agricultural land in question as not being of good quality. Din l-Art Helwa and Front Harsien ODZ had objected to the development.