UPDATED: Zejtun petrol station will not be built – Police remove activists during protest, PN reaction
Permission has not been granted for the building of a petrol station in Zejtun during a Planning Authority hearing which was characterized by a confrontation between police officers and activists of Graffiti movement and Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent. With ten votes in favour and one against, the Planning Authority Board agreed with the Directorate’s recommendation that the new petrol station in Bulebel should not be built.
The earlier presentation of the proposal before the Planning Authority board for a petrol station in the Zejtun industrial zone was stopped unexpectedly for about an hour after activists from Moviment Graffiti and Kamp Emergenza Ambjent tried to gain entry to the meeting.
Police assistance was summoned to ensure the situation did not escalate. The Moviment Graffiti and Kamp Emergenza Ambjent activists did not gain entry to the meeting and remained in the entrance to the Planning Authority building, but the noise they were making from outside was enough for the meeting to be suspended until the situation calmed down.
In a statement, Moviment Grafitti said that together with Kamp Emerġenza Ambjent, they are emphasising the fact that nine months after the promise by authorities that the Fuel Service Station Policy was going to be revised, no changes have been made. Moviment Graffiti said that the current policy allows these so-called petrol stations which are enormous (and which are actually commercial centers) to be built on virgin and agricultural land marked as ODZ (Outside Development Zones). They said that they are insisting that the processing of all pending applications for ODZ petrol stations are suspended until the revised policy comes into effect.
Moviment Grafitti said that in the case of the petrol station at Zejtun being discussed by the Board today, the PA has once again shown that it is doing everything it can to pander to developers. It said that the recommendation of the PA case officer himself for the petrol station which will cover a proposed 3,000m² of agricultural land in Zejtun was that the application should be turned down. However, instead of turning down the application immediately during the meeting held on Thursday 21 August, the PA board postponed the meeting to give developer more time to justify his claim.
Reacting to the incidents during the Planning Authority’s session, the Nationalist Party said that a peaceful protest unfortunately ended with the use of excessive force. In a statement the PN said that while people have the right to protest, the State has the duty to see that Police are present to protect those who are protesting. It added that in a true democratic country, citizens, civil society and the Police deserve better.