• Search
    Latest News
  • Joint Press Release by Beach Users and the ESG

    Calls to Close Western Beach
    30th November 2011

    ONE YEAR ON and NOTHING HAS CHANGED. This is the situation at Western Beach.

    “Actually, that statement is not true”, said Karen Everett of the Western Beach Group, “I can no longer call myself a Western Beach user as I have not used the beach for over a year. I cannot use the beach as I think the risk to health is just too dangerous”.

    In fact the situation has changed, it has got worse. Most of Gibraltar’s beaches have been affected by different levels of sewage contamination in the water over the summer.
    The Campaigners against sewage into the Western Beach area consider it necessary to remind the public that once again in the winter months the levels of contamination discharged into the beach substantially increases. The situation radically worsens when there is rainfall, and even a small amount of rain washes a great deal of RAW SEWAGE into the water. Yet another charity swim took off from Western Beach last weekend. This was on the same day that reports were received from residents in the area of terrible smells and the sight of a sewage sheen covering most of the western bay area.
    Campaigners call for the closure of this beach during the winter period until such time as all discharges are stopped or sealed off. The beach was closed last year due to the risk to public health and nothing has changed suggesting the beach should be closed this winter too.

    The groups also note that data continues to be scant on the Environmental Agency website and are certain that if more sampling was done the evidence will be all too clear. It is also important for Gibraltar to be collecting this data to help support the Official Complaint and Petition currently under review at the European Commission with support from Sir Graham Watson. “We need this data to help maintain pressure to try and get this cross border problem resolved,” said Karen.

    Both the Western Beach Group and the ESG call for the immediate closure of the beach believing it to be the only way to limit use of the waters during this period, when illnesses could be caused in our community.

    ESG Reaction to Reports into Tank Fire Causes

    ESG responds to Tank Fire Reports

    28th November 2011

    Reacting to Capita Symonds report into the Tank Fire in Western Arm, the ESG sincerely hopes that critical lessons will be learnt from the accident which tragically claimed the life of a contractor.

    This Government-commissioned, comprehensive report (available on: www.gibraltar.gov.gi) outlines in detail the protocols, procedures, and more importantly the devastating condition of both tanks which contributed to the accident on the 31st May 2011. Metallurgical expert from Capita Symonds confirmed both tanks contained numerous perforations which created the conditions for an explosion whilst welding was taking place. These perforations could well have caused the regular, offensive smells in the area during normal operations at the Nature Plant and frequently reported to the ESG by affected residents.

    In a 2008 report produced by M.Belilo & Partners (1) (a Civil & Structural Engineering Firm in Gibraltar) the authors make several recommendations for necessary repairs to be carried out to the tanks in question.

    Another important issue which has arisen in the report and which must be addressed is the fact that this industry was licensed by the Environmental Agency. (2) It says:
    6.3 The Environment Agency (EA) issued a Pollution Prevention and Control Permit (PCC 001) to SORT on 15 October 2007 allowing operation of an installation at the North Mole site. EA also issued a Licence, (number WL 025(B)), to Nature under Part VA of the Public Health
    Act. The current Licence was issued on 16 August 2010 and is valid for 2 years.

    The ESG questions how these licences could have been issued by the agency when it would appear that all the necessary repairs were never carried out and were, according to the Capita Symonds report, easy to detect with the naked eye.

    Gibraltar needs to apply best practice and the precautionary principle throughout all its industrial activity- this clearly was not applied, and the ESG insists that no more lives should be lost before we learn lessons and raise standards of safety and enforcement of environmental protection legislation.(1) (http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/images/stories/PDF/pressoffice/north_mole_incident/1/appendix.pdf page 10)
    (2) http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/images/stories/PDF/pressoffice/north_mole_incident/3/north_mole_incident-procedural_matters.pdf Page 17-22)

    Political Parties Unite to Ban East Side Bunkering!!

    News that all political parties will NOT allow bunkering on the East Side of the Rock is met with delight by all the groups who campaigned duriing 2011 for this decision. Brief reaction below:

    “The Coalition against Bunkering on the East Side, made up of the undersigned which includes Associations, NGO’s and businesses are delighted with the announcement made today by all political parties that they will not allow Bunkering activity on the East Side of Gibraltar to go ahead.
    This is great news.
    A fuller statement will be issued over the next few days.”

    The groups involved in the Campaign are: GONHS, ESG, Gibraltar Federation of Sea Anglers, Gibraltar Sub Aqua Club, Caleta Hotel, Both Worlds Retirement Committee and Both Worlds Resident Committee”.

    ESG AGM and Screening of our first Film

    The ESG held its AGM last night at the John Mackintosh Hall. After the usual business of accounts/committee and membership issues a presentation was given by the Chairperson Janet Howitt.

    The focus of the talk was on the ESG Wish List for the current elections going through each issue in some detail, after which the floor was opened for a Q and A session. The main questions were on renewable energy and pollution and why Gibraltar was still so far behind in implementing technology which is moving at such fast pace in the rest of the world.

    These and other issues were discussed and the highlight of the evening was unquestionably the premiering of the ESG commissioned film on its community campaign for Clean up the World called “Our Place, Our Planet, Our Responsibility”.

    The film has already generated great feedback, as it was also screened on GBC on the night of the AGM. It showcases Gibraltar as a community that has major issues with waste and littering but also displays great spirit in addressing these problems with the widespread hands on nature of the campaign.

    It is hoped that the film will also be shown in our local cinema and will be posted online but undoubtedly has international appeal focusing, as it does, on environmental issues affecting most of the industrialised world today.

    Copies of the film will be made available to schools, CUTW team leaders and supporters of the Campaign.
    Special thanks to all those involved in the creation of such a special environmental film. The ESG is also grateful to our sponsors for enabling us to fund such necessary educational tools.

    See also at: http://www.gbc.gi/television/tv-player.php?programme=517&episode=4049

    Volunteers Clean Up Withams Cemetery

    Withams’ Cemetery set to get much needed care

    This weekend the ESG, Gibraltar Heritage Trust, concerned citizens and a group of young people on a Young Enterprise Scheme called “Green Change,” started a clean up in what will be part of an ongoing programme of refurbishment and restoration at Withams Cemetery.

    Ahead of the clean up and widespread weeding, Andrew Abrines, a flora expert from the Botanic Gardens, was consulted for advice on the presence of important plant species. Although the wet weather eventually put a stop to the energetic efforts of the volunteers much vegetation and litter was removed. This work will continue over the next few months.

    One section was tackled with a particular focus on cleaning around the damaged tombstones and Claire Montado, Heritage Trust Chief Executive, was on hand to provide advice and guidance to volunteers.

    “The Gibraltar Heritage Trust has coordinated a number of clean up campaigns with a number of voluntary groups within Witham’s Cemetery over the years and has always had the problem of long term management of the cemetery on its agenda. The main issue of a heritage site such as this one is the fact that it is tucked away within a residential area, and with no frequent visitors has become over grown, full of rubbish and many of the graves have fallen into disrepair. The cemetery provides a valuable green space and when managed can provide a peaceful spot in this area, just as the Trafalgar Cemetery does. This latest cleanup with the ESG has highlighted the potential of this site and the continued desire of the community to see it remain as a green area. More importantly, the Trust has recently received the welcome news that the landscaping of the cemetery has been included by Government within the scope of the adjacent Plata Villa project. The detail of what and how is done is still at the early stages, but it is clear that this will breathe life back into the site and ensure its survival for future generations to enjoy”.

    The ESG is happy to support voluntary efforts under the CUTW banner for community based projects such as Withams Cemetery believing the area also offers a valuable green space to residents and the rich biodiversity present.

    Mojib Benhakim, Managing Director of GreenChange adds, “GreenChange involvement at the Witham’s Cemetery cleanup has provided an ideal opportunity for our Young Enterprise group to extend our concerns and make a change to our local environment and community. We got a chance to get hands-on in an issue we feel strongly about. We shall be launching our exciting new environmental business under the Scheme in early December. We would like to extend our gratitude to the ESG and the Gibraltar Heritage Trust for their support and actions in making Gibraltar a cleaner more environmentally greener community to live in.”

    The organisers wish to thank all volunteers who helped on Saturday and to Anglo Hispano for their help and co-operation on the day. Volunteers will be needed to continue the clean up over the next few months – please contact the Heritage Trust on 200-42844 or the ESG on 200-48996 to sign up if interested.


    The Gibraltar Government has today published reports on the massive Tank Fire Accident on the 31st May 2011.


    Govt makes statement re Sewage


    Saturday, 12th November 2011

    La Linea storm drain problem continues


    Gibraltar Government has declared that the quality of the bathing waters at Western Beach is subject to deterioration at any time and without warning. In a statement yesterday, they said this was due to the discharges from the storm drain constructed by the Spanish authorities in La Linea. Discharges and the contamination they cause can be heavily influenced by the quantity and duration of any rainfall.

    A spokesman for the Ministry for Environment said: “Though the official bathing season has ended, and there is no EU requirement to do so, the quality of the bathing waters at Western Beach will continue to be monitored weekly and the results displayed on the Environmental Agency website:-


    “The public are asked to note that the water quality cannot be guaranteed, that these results are published for guidance purposes only, and that weekly monitoring means that the results shown on the website could be up to six days old. If the latest monitoring results show elevated levels, users of Western Beach are advised not to swim or paddle and to restrict their activities to areas of dry sand away from the seashore.

    “The public needs to be particularly vigilant following any period of rainfall, as this can cause the quality of the bathing waters at Western Beach to deteriorate rapidly.

    Beach users should not swim or paddle until such time as they have checked the website and verified that the results of the bathing water quality monitoring taken after the rainfall in question show that the bathing water quality is or has returned to acceptable levels.

    “The foregoing information is being published on a public notice at Western Beach.

    Further advice on these monitoring results can be obtained from the EnvironmentalAgency during normal working hours on Tel 20070620.”

    Sewage once again in our waters at Western

    11th November 2011

    The ESG has been in contact with the Ministry for the Environment on numerous occasions recently calling for a public statement to be made on the return of high levels of sewage at Western Beach. Yet nothing is heard from our authorities on the matter. Members of our community who use our waters year round are already too familiar with the offensive smells and presence of sewage especially near Western Beach when out canoeing etc. We have seen round the Rock charity swims too and clearly this type of activity will continue throughout the winter months. Residents near Western Beach are also seriously affected by the over-powering stench of sewage discharged via the La Linea storm drains whenever it rains.

    This is not a case of people eventually forgetting about this or accepting this new pollution problem as “normal”. It is a public health issue and requires that the Environmental Agency makes every effort to inform the community in order that people can make an informed choice. The ESG would also like to know what pressure the GoG is placing on its Spanish counterpart to find a resolution to this cross border, public health problem.

    Looking at the Environmental Agency website one can see sporadic data, not usually taken after the rains when contamination levels would be at their worst, and yet already exhibiting a familiar spiking pattern of illegal levels of sewage, and this, frankly, cannot go by in silence.

    Perhaps protests and petitions are once again required and the ESG and Beach Users, who have jointly campaigned on this issue to date, will be holding discussions soon to plan further action.

    Go to : http://www.environmental-agency.gi/beachresult.php?beachid=6
    for sewage data posted on the Environmental Agency website.

    Dolphin washed ashore 9th November 2011

    The ESG was notified of the sighting of a dead dolphin washing up ashore at Eastern Beach yesterday. This is a tragic occurence which happens rarely, but neverttheless begs many questions as to the cause of death.

    We have started carrying out coastal “checks” around Gibraltar’s shoreline as part of a survey to establish what gets washed up – primarily as a fact finding exercise but ultimately to work towards wider efforts to clean up our oceans. Comprehensive data will be collected during the winter and will be offered to Mediterranean and Global studies involved in assessing the health of the seas.

    It is striking that on the first day of our coastal watch a dead dolphin arrives on our shores. Lets hope this is the only one we shall see during the winter months.

    We invite you to please send in photos and or information on anything unusual you find on our shores, and especially excessive debris after heavy rains. Thank you.

    Contact esg@gibtelecom.net Call: 200-48996

    ESG AGM to be held 22nd November

    The ESG Committee has set a date for 2011 AGM to be held on Tuesday 22nd November at 7.30pm. Meeting will be held at the John Mackintosh Hall, Charles Hunt Room.

    The meeting will include a review of accounts and campaigns, membership renewal and signing up of new members as well as a sneak preview of our first ever film.

    Hope to see our members there.