NGOs: ‘Hidden powers’ behind approval of mega petrol station in Luqa

Hidden powers have decided the outcome of the Planning Authority’s decision on yet another ODZ petrol station, NGOs said on Thursday.

Nine NGOs held a press conference outside the Planning Authority in which they expressed their concern over the approval of a mega petrol station on ODZ and agricultural land in Luqa. The NGOs said the decision was an act of senseless environmental destruction.

“Although there was a vote by the Board against the same application on the 5th April, the Planning Board has a history of changing its decision without any apparent reason” the NGOs said, adding that “hidden power kept secret from the public which really sets the outcomes of the board’s decisions.”

During the meeting, Planning Authority executive secretary Johann Buttigieg, said that the Luqa application was in line with the authority’s policy and the only members to vote against were PN representative Marthese Portelli, ERA representative Victor Axiak, NGO representative Annick Bonello and the Planning Authority’s chairman Vince Cassar.

The NGOs said that their fears were confirmed in what they described as a “veritable farce.”

They said that the Planning Authority’s board vote changed to one in favour and “Malta will thus be embellished with yet another petrol station that will take up over 4,500 meters squared of agricultural land, in an area which is already saturated with petrol stations.”

The NGOs also asked why the review of the 2015 Fuel Stations Policy that was promised by the environment minister is yet to be concluded.

The decision will see the relocation of the Savoy petrol station located on Rue d’Argens in Gzira to ODZ land in Luqa and will include car wash facilities, a pumping station, a tyre service garage, a shop on two floors, a VRT garage and a small car park.

The NGOs include FAA Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Din l-Art Helwa, Ramblers Malta, Moviment Graffitti, BirdLife Malta, Żminijietna, Nature Trust Malta and Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent

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