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  • ESG on need for new Power Station

    General misconception in some local circles is that the environmentally friendly thing is to oppose the new power station but this is an overly simplistic argument that fails to address the realities of the present power station in Gibraltar and the problems they are causing.

    -At present we have three power stations in Gibraltar that due to their size are not covered by EU or local legislation namely the large plant directive which governs how power stations are operated and how their emissions are controlled in the rest of Europe.
    By falling outside this directive they are completely unregulated with regards to emissions controls and mitigating measures i.e. they are legally allowed to pollute as much as they want due to a legal loophole.

    -Furthermore these power stations are situated next to massive residential areas both in the North district (Gibelec) and in the south district (OESCO and MOD Power station) which means that together with their unregulated emissions and illegal noise levels they are constituting a health hazard to all the residents of these areas and dramatically lowering their quality of life. Indeed our local monitoring stations and pollution modelling studies demonstrate that these power stations are causing Gibraltar to fail air pollution standards established by the EU with regards to Nitrogen Oxides and particulates.

    -Our power stations burn diesel fuel which is demonstrated to produce large amounts of harmful particles, (soot), which have a particle diameter of less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5’s), these are classed as carcinogenic and are so fine that they can easily penetrate most barriers eg brick walls. This means that the residents of the north and south district are being exposed to very harmful pollutants in terms of very fine soot which is a carcinogen plus Nitrogen oxides which is a respiratory irritant and thus aggravates asthma, allergies, and other respiratory diseases.

    Why do we support the new power station?

    – By building a single power station this now means that it is covered by the large plant directive. This requires the power plant to have continuous monitoring at source of all emissions from it plus pollution mitigation measures like scrubbers and filters have to be built into the design of the plant to keep emissions within EU requirements which is not happening at the moment in Gibraltar.
    The new power station also requires IPPC certification which means that the best available technology has to be applied to all aspects of the plant this is with respect to emissions as well as the efficiency of the engines generators etc which will allow better efficiency levels for the plant and more efficient use of fuel as opposed to the present very dated equipment and technology being used.

    -The proposed location of the new power station is the best location available in Gibraltar with regards to distance from major residential areas as well as wind dispersal modelling for the emissions given our predominant easterly and westerly winds. There are some who are against the location for aesthetic reasons but this purely subjective opinion has to be balanced against the obvious benefits to the residents of the north and south district in terms of a substantially better air quality and healthier living conditions. According to pollution dispersion models of the new power station as presented in its environmental impact assessment there will be dramatic pollution reduction due to the application of best available technologies, scrubbers and filters and stack heights all of which will be in compliance with EU directives.

    -There is also some objection to the new power station on the grounds that it is very near the nature reserve. It is true that it is near the nature reserve but the reality is that the power station is being built on a tarmaced former parade ground and therefore no green areas or trees will be destroyed for its construction. While we accept that the closeness to the nature reserve is of some concern this has to be weighed against the present extreme closeness of the current power stations to residential areas and people and the health effects these are now having on our population and a reasoned judgment made on this.

    Renewable energy and the new power stations.

    -The reality at the moment is that there is an immediate requirement for more generating capacity and that the present power station arrangement is harming the health and quality of life of thousands of Gib residents in the north and south district so a solution is needed immediately. Our vision for the immediate future is that the new power station which should apply Best Available Technology and be fully EU law compliant should be built as soon as possible and we believe should have been completed by the end of 2010 as promised in the last GSD manifesto.

    -Government claims to be looking into the possibility of using turbines to harness the straits currents , while the idea is very good the reality is that there are no commercially available sea current turbines at the moment and all the present projects are very small scale experimental prototype schemes so any such project is at best at least ten or more years away, so to delay the new power station to wait for these projects to come on line is unrealistic given the present harm being done to people living around our old power stations.
    Gibraltar lacks the land area to install wind turbines to contribute in a significant way to electricity generation and certainly not enough to cancel the new power station given the present and future energy needs of Gibraltar, and in any case there are also strong voices against wind turbines in Gibraltar due to migratory bird routes as well as aesthetic reasons which also have to be taken into account.

    – We propose that a gradual implementation of renewable energy projects should be energetically followed and investment provided once the new power station is produced, this will give us the cushion of time needed to implement the newer renewable energy technologies as they become commercially available and would allow us to gradually reduce the demand on the new power station as the years progress. We believe that a great opportunity to start on these renewable energy projects has been missed by failing to provide our new air terminal with a solar panel roof incorporated in the design of the building.
    The site of the new air terminal is ideal for this project as it is away from the rock and the effects of the Levante cloud and due to the proximity of the runway no tall structures can be built around it allowing maximum use of the sun. We could have had a dual purpose building, that is a state of the art air terminal and a state of the art solar panel roof which would make it a renewable energy power station with no noise, emissions, moving parts and a projected lifespan of some thirty years in which to produce thousands of Megawatts of clean renewable energy which could have been sold to consumers to recuperate the cost of the air terminal. This could have been ready and producing renewable energy as from next year.

    Like this idea are many others which could be co-opted into current building programmes and existing infrastructure to bring about greater use of available renewable energy technologies and in this way also help reduce the draw of energy from the existing old stations and future replacement one. The ESG has also raised the best practice option of purchasing energy from Spain but this should be green energy given this is being generated close by. However we all know the reality of this becoming available to us in the foreseeable future.

    The ESG considers the Chamber of Commerce call for debate on this issue and on whether a replacement power station should go ahead is out of place and touch with reality. As expressed above, the new power station is urgently needed due to the intolerable impact from all three aging units.

    It’s not a question of energy cost but of public health, law and the environment.

    Tripartite non Ministerial Talks Today (2)

    ESG Press Release 21st July 2010

    Sent on behalf of the ESG and the GONHS:

    “Further to our press release published 21/7/10 where we said that our request for participation in the technical talks being held under the Tripartite Forum process on environmental issues had not been heard or acknowledged, we can now confirm that although we have had no written formal reply we have been verbally informed that the Gibraltar Government would welcome our participation and input on environmental technical encounters and will propose that an appropriate structure is set up to make this possible.

    The ESG and GONHS welcome this news and look forward to the setting up of such a structure within which the transborder environmental groups would be able to participate and address the many serious and urgent environmental matters affecting our respective communities”.

    Tripartite Non- Ministerial Talks Today (1)


    For publication 21st July 2010

    “The ESG and GONHS, as part of the cross border coalition of environmental NGO’s, wish to advise that the joint request made by groups “for participation in the technical talks held under the Tripartite Process on environmental issues” has neither been heard or acknowledged. In light of the talks being held today we regret this exclusion and will be taking the issue up with our colleagues in Spain to consider our position.

    The NGO’s are also concerned that other developments should not take the
    focus away from the needs of the environment and consequently public
    health, which are longer term problems which affect us all, regardless of
    the frontier situation.

    A year ago today the Forum made several declarations on how it proposed to address environmental risks and potential hazards in the bay claiming it would be providing substantial feedback within the year. The year is up today and we call upon the Forum to provide concrete answers”.

    CEPSA Heavy Flaring July 2010

    “The ESG wishes to draw attention to the appalling levels of flaring at the CEPSA refinery today when several chimneys were seen blazing emitting large volumes of thick black smoke. The ESG understands only too well that the smoke contains a large number of noxious chemicals and gases in significant quantities and was alarmed to witness the manner in which these emissions approached Gibraltar land and residential areas.
    The group received calls from a number of concerned citizens also alarmed at the level of flaring and smoke heading for Gibraltar and we explained how power shortage had likely produced this episode of flaring.
    The ESG sincerely hopes that the non ministerial meeting taking place next week under theTripartite Forum will be reminded via this press release of the very real and serious environmental threat and impact citizens face from the industrial base on the Bay. It also highlights the lack of application of best available technology despite assurances to the contrary by industry. “

    ESG Radio Broadcast 8th July 2010

      Infrastructural Projects

    Clearly anyone can see that Gibraltar is undergoing numerous, massive, infrastructural projects, which will significantly improve many of our public areas.

    • Sandy Bay is finally receiving serious attention mainly driven by the risk of collapse of the buildings known as “Both Worlds”, which, for decades, have enjoyed the luxury of a truly stunning landscape and environment. As a Sandy Bay fan I only hope that the beach will also be stabilised in its own right and will be returned to full public use once the re-enforcement works are completed.
    • The Dudley Ward tunnel is also moving quickly ahead with reports of completion sometime this year.
    • The rubble mountain off Eastern Beach continues to grow and this is a cause for concern. Let’s hope the dumping is strictly monitored and controlled but this does beg the question of Gibraltar’s rubble waste in general and the copious amounts being produced.
    • Over to Europa Point and much evidence today of the ongoing tidying up project, both long awaited and promised. Though still a building site, this effort will, with any luck, result in an improved area where tourists and locals alike will experience and enjoy the brilliant vistas Gibraltar offers. Hope to also see lots of trees going in to the final refurbishment effort!



    The ESG is currently visiting problem sites as well as “difficult to get at” areas for assessment for the upcoming Clean Up the World Campaign taking place this year on the 18th and 19th September.  We are now distributing our colourful volunteer posters and are contacting teams to begin planning in earnest.

    Please, call us and register on: 200-48996, or on mobile: 54960000.You can also email us on: esg@gibtelecom.net . Launch of campaign happening very soon.

    Eastside Bunkering:

    I also wanted to quickly touch base on a number of important issues which have arisen recently – one, the fact that the Govt of Gibraltar has stated in the press that it is planning to lift restrictions to allow bunkering to be carried out on the eastside of Gibraltar. This is completely opposed by the ESG, and we believe, by many in the community. We shall be launching a petition to prevent this from happening. We strongly believe that economic growth should not come about at any cost and hope to gain widespread public support on this. We issued a detailed press release on this outlining our concerns and you can read about this and the petition on our website: www.esg-gib.net .

    Green Budgetary Measures:

    The green measures proposed by Govt in its recent budget are most definitely good news and a long awaited step in the right direction. We mustn’t forget that Gibraltar will be failing to meet European targets this year in using a percentage of renewable energy as part of our energy base, and this has to change. Investment and focus on this by the Govt of the day is needed and overdue, and will, in the long-term, provide financial as well as environmental benefits. Of course our air quality will also improve with clear health benefits for all.

    Well, hope you have heard something of interest to you.  Please do get in touch if you would like more information on any local or regional environmental issue.

    Thanks for listening!!

    Eastside Bunkering worrying in the extreme

    June 30th 2010

    “Increased bunkering will further degrade our quality of life”

    Just 10 days ago the ESG issued a press release urging Govt to address the problem of invasive fugitive fumes (OFFENSIVE SMELLS) related to offshore, ship to ship bunkering, affecting many south and west district residents. Not only has our plea on behalf of the many callers and complainants been ignored, but it appears that Government is now opening the way for expansion of this activity on the eastern side of the Rock.


    Whilst the Government has said that the plans are subject to an environmental impact study the mere fact that Government is prepared to extend bunkering to the Eastside is worrying in the extreme.


    Clearly relying on a passive public reaction, Government heralds this step as good for the economy, more money in the coffers, and that, seems to be all that matters. The ESG and we believe, many in our community, will disagree and so we are considering launching a petition. The purpose would be to gauge what the local community thinks of Government’s management of this issue particularly as it had promised, in its last manifesto, (among many other unfulfilled green promises), that it was strongly considering relocating bunkering operations onto land to minimise impact on people and the environment. Was this seriously intended, or was Government merely responding to the concerns of voters at the time!!


    The ESG calls upon GOG to inform the public what are the economic benefits to Gibraltar and whether they have also factored in the loss of revenue from tourism activities due to the increased unattractiveness of our beaches and sea front due to the presence of tens of tankers a short distance from shore plus the effects of noxious smells on our beaches in the east side. This is without even considering oil pollution from the many potential small oil losses on fuel transfers washing onshore during the prevailing Levante.


    The ESG has been reasonably fair in its campaigning and lobbying for safer bunkering practices in Gibraltar, recognising progress at the Port and a clear intent even within the Tripartite system, to consolidate preventative measures at a cross-border level. However we still do not know if full implementation of VTS (vessel tracking systems) on both sides of the Rock is now operational. (This along with organising channels for ship movements and many other recommendations were made in subsequent accident reports into collisions on the eastern side of Gibraltar).


    We also do not yet know if the Tripartite Forum will be delivering on its proposed programme of environmental protection and coordination in all maritime activity as it pledged to do back in July 2009. Surely this planned bunkering expansion ahead of a Tripartite “plan” can only be seen as a retrograde step to what the Forum is planning and even a slap in the face of the Forum’s efforts in working towards a safer environment.


    The ESG considers it premature of the Gibraltar Government to make this announcement. It demonstrates its lack of sufficient care over environmental issues. At the same time it has yet to deliver on the promises it has made along the way which can only be seen as quelling public criticism and fobbing off political backlash.

    The ESG is considering a petition because we believe this step is one too far.