The national Fuel Station Policy has been revised, with changes including a capping in the overall number of stations and a banning of extending fuel stations built fully or partially on Outside-Development-Zone (ODZ) land.
The revision of the fuel station policy, which has been in the pipeline since January 2018, seeks to make revisions for 2015 fuel station rules.
In a press release issued on Friday evening, the Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia said that the revision took place “following consultations with various stakeholders and experts, and after taking into consideration various economic, social, and environmental factors”.
Public consultations took place last year, while the new policy document is the result of work carried out by the Planning Authority (PA) and the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) “during the past couple of months,” and “addresses a number of environmental concerns and includes several significant changes”.
There will be a capping in the overall number of fuel stations in Malta and Gozo, however the overall number has not been specified.
• Only relocation of an existing fuel station will be considered.
• An existing fuel station must be creating a negative impact on the built environment to be considered for relocation.
• Extensions of existing fuel stations located partially or fully in ODZ areas will not be accepted.
• ODZ sites on agricultural, isolated, or sporadic land will not be considered under any circumstance, even if covered by a valid development permit or committed pre-1967.
• Maximum size of fuel station in ODZ reduced from 3,000m² to 1,000m², including amenities.
• The height of any new fuel station cannot exceed 7 meters.
• ODZ sites in the close vicinity of industrial areas, SME areas, and Areas of Containment, have been removed from acceptable locations. All Open Storage Areas have been removed.
• A buffer zone is being reintroduced between a proposed fuel station and vulnerable receptors. Relocations within 500m of an existing fuel station will not be considered.
• The new policy shall also apply to all pending fuel station applications.
The Environment Minister said that the Government is thereby laying the foundations for better planning and with a more intelligent vision, taking onboard both the planning sector and environmental considerations.
“The revised policy sets a capping on the number of fuel stations, as well as stricter limits on relocations. It considers the wellbeing of our residential communities, as well as the environment.
“I believe the country spent too much time discussing this policy when the topic which should have been high on our agenda is the phasing out of petrol and diesel vehicles in the next two decades in order to go electric,” Minister Farrugia said.
Chairperson of the Executive Council of the PA Martin Saliba said the entity is confident that, through this new revised Fuel Service Station Policy, the right balance has been achieved.
“We feel that this policy is limiting the take-up of land use for future fuel service stations only for genuine cases, where their current location has today resulted in them being an injury or safety concern to the amenity.”
ERA Acting CEO Michelle Piccinino said that ERA had an important role in this review, and a significant number of changes that were proposed by ERA were taken on board in the final policy document.
As a result, the revised Fuel Stations Policy provides the necessary protection of ODZ, while allowing for the relocation of existing fuel stations from problematic areas.