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  • ESG on Environmental Moves 05.05.23

    The ESG welcomes the recent developments from Government in taking meaningful steps to address issues important to the group.

    It is positive news to learn of the ‘Aspire’ conference being held to focus and inform towards greener building standards and practices given that development and construction carry such major environmental impacts.

    The publication of additional legislation via the new Environment Bill to commit Gibraltar to greater environmental compliance is also welcomed, but the group will be seeking information from Government on how this will work in practice over and above the many layers of existing environmental legislation in place today, not least, the immense challenge of meeting our Climate Change Strategy targets.

    World Earth Day, Climate Change and Oil 21.04.23

    The ESG draws attention to World Earth Day celebrated tomorrow the 22nd of April 2023. Fortunately these annual, global dates alone are no longer the only drivers for environmental action today but they do highlight the immense challenges ahead.

    Halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 still remains the goal to preserve a liveable planet with net zero emissions to follow by 2050. That’s just 7 and 27 years away…literally a blink of an eye. The ESG will continue to press for greater and more visible action to be taken by all levels of society with Government clearly needed to set the agenda for action and priority.

    More locally we also face the ongoing works to remove the OS35 vessel from our coastline. Even today, teams organised by the Department of the Environment have been removing tar balls from Sandy and Little Bay. We commend their monitoring and clean up but regret this ongoing oil pollution even running through to World Earth Day itself. The group notes that all beaches will be open to the public barring Little Bay, that will be partially closed, as works there continue. The ESG shares the widely held view that the removal of this vessel cannot come too soon.

    On a more positive note it highlights another clean up led by The Nautilus Project on Sunday 23rd April to mark World Earth Day from 11.30 to 1pm at Rosia Bay welcoming all volunteers.

    Post Oil Clean Up- ESG Concerns 11.04.23

    “The ESG was very concerned to see the oil spill from OS35 hit our shores last week. Conditions made it difficult to gauge the scale of the problem.

     However the number of cleaning teams involved from the early stages ensured the worst of the oil was removed quite quickly and was prevented from being washed back out to sea. 

    The ESG also monitored the oil afflicted areas in efforts to support the clean up underway and thanks the Dept of the Environment for frequent updates of the progress made as well as its own standby team of volunteers.

    The group will wait for an official assessment of the overall damage to our coastline, as calmer weather will permit a more thorough inspection to be carried out.

    The Gibraltar coastline is very much part of our social fabric as well as a natural environment and is clearly ecologically important as well as a matter of public interest. 

    The group remains concerned that further oil spills could occur and sincerely hopes that every effort is made for the removal of the wreck  before any more is released.”

    See following article by Gibraltar Chronicle:

    Eastside Development and Public Participation 05.04.23

    The ESG has seen media announcements regarding financing for the Eastside development.

    The group would like to take this opportunity to raise a few important issues regarding this major development in the hope that more information will soon be shared with the community.

    At a key DPC meeting last year, where outline planning permission was granted for the land and marina projects, the general understanding was that concerns made over environmental impacts had been heard.  Recommendations were made that ongoing monitoring would be required over the lengthy period of time of construction – (some 10 years cited) to ensure that EIA outcomes, currently predicting no real impact on the marine environment, or water quality, were in fact, accurate. The ESG believes there are grounds for some of the concerns raised that requires further analysis.

    Additionally there was broad support for the reduction of small boat berths to half (200) of what was planned (400), and discussion on whether this would lead to reconfiguration of the marina, reduction in size, etc. The group asks whether plans are being revised or not.

    The ESG notes that each step of the development will see specific plans, materials and information presented to the DPC.  Notwithstanding, it believes that projects of such a transformational nature, changing the face of the Caleta area forever, should see additional promotion and public outreach outside of the planning process itself, by way of public exhibitions and models. This would enable dialogue and a fuller appreciation of the project vision, and hear concerns and questions from the community. This request was raised and responded to positively by TNG at the DPC meeting.

    The group hopes to hear of such steps being taken soon.

    Radio Broadcast 16.02.23

    ESG Radio Newsletter 16th February

    Topics:  Upcoming DPC meetings: Rooke, Mount, Devil’s Tower 29 storey, Active Travel Strategy and more….

    Hello- Once again development projects dominate the environmental agenda with DPC meeting next Thursday 23rd at 9.30am and we can expect a busy session. We advise you to log on to the YouTube link posted on the Town Planning website under DPC, agendas for details, as you will only be able to follow proceedings live. There are no recordings available, nor physical meetings taking place, something we continue to regret and call for.

    So if any of the following issues interest you be sure to look at plans available online beforehand and join the session being streamed that morning. A very large proposal for Devil’s Tower Road, in fact 1 of 2, is being tabled after having been deferred previously due to height and massing. Government’s Active Travel Strategy is also on the agenda for general discussion as well as one area being signalled separately with more detail supplied.  The ESG has broadly welcomed this while calling for a number of measures such as timeframes and budget, parallel action to reduce vehicle numbers, expansion of a clean emission public transport service removing out-dated and polluting buses from our roads, and, promoting the use of park and ride.

    The Mount comes up with details and designs on a number of new public amenities.  Arengo’s, Governor’s Parade, Chilton Court and Eastern Beach Car Park are also on the agenda. Be sure to tune in!! That’s the 23rd February at 9.30am.

    The need for a fresh and holistic development plan for Gibraltar is desperately needed in our view.

    With a much welcomed resumption of Litter Committee meetings the ESG is pleased to report that the Clean up Campaign has seen significant movement on the part of agencies and cleaning contractor to tackle a few ongoing and challenging hotspots. However, works continue and preventative measures and enforcement must also play their part. The dumping, especially of rubble and bulky items continues to take place in open spaces highlighting the urgent need for a fit for purpose waste handling facility.  The ESG continues to monitor such problem sites and supports spot clean ups by volunteers with equipment and advice throughout the year.

    2023 is already a busy year for many, not least for us and we continue to work on many other fronts lobbying for best practice and precautionary principle to be core to decision making in all areas.

    Please email us with any queries or concerns at esg@gibtelecom.net

    Also visit our website at: www.esg-gib.net for more information.

    ESG Responds to Active Travel Plan 31.01.23

    The ESG broadly supports the ‘Active Travel Strategy’ as a measure to encourage healthier travel like walking and cycling around our small town, as it also supports the measure to introduce signage with advice on distances to various locations, thereby encouraging both locals and visitors to leave their vehicles parked up.

    However, the group believes that without a time frame and confirmation of resources available, the Active Travel Strategy is meaningless.

    Moreover, if the proposed strategies are to be successful, a series of other measures must be introduced.

    – enforcement against idling everywhere, but particularly outside schools and crowded areas, is essential to improve air quality and protect public health.

    – pavement maintenance and provision should be reviewed to encourage safe walking.

    – effective Park & Ride measures enabling visitors to park close to the border would also be a huge boost to the success of the active travel strategy.

    – replacing public (and private) transport with clean emission vehicles is also urgently needed.

    – changing local laws on emissions based on year of manufacture, which essentially allows old vehicles to pollute with impunity. Current legislation has moved on because of the proven harmful health effects of such dirty emissions.

    – action on noise pollution from cars and motorbikes.

    – action on dangerous driving from vehicles and motorbikes.

    – cycle code of behaviour to be promoted with penalties for cyclists also in place.

    – enforcement and promotion of the new regulations for use of EScooters in Gibraltar.

    The ESG hopes Government gives these recommendations urgent traction to ensure measures like the “Active Travel Strategy” and future aspirations can reach their full potential. The group will also be appealing to the RGP to support the active enforcement of these measures once introduced, as they have done with the EScooters, to ensure their success to all our benefit.”

    ESG 1st Radio Broadcast 120123

    Hello, this is our first newsletter of 2023!

    Today we look ahead at what will surely prove to be a highly important year with elections, the economy, peace and climate change dominating headlines around the world.

    In 2023 we will again push for the New Development Plan that can still have some influence surely on unstoppable development, which, we are told, is so evidently vital to our economic stability. Holistic planning is paramount as well as street level design and guidance so incoming developers know what the Plan expects them to build and not just simply what class of building it needs to meet. Much greater care has to be given to existing buildings and residents – with an eye on reducing impacts on Climate Change as boldly as possible. We will continue to press for these objectives. Look out for next DPC mtg next Thursday the 19th, also first of the year as from 9.30am, live streamed on youtube via the Town Planning links.

    We would like to see our Transport Situation given a major push this year to reduce and control motorised traffic on our roads. The noise and air pollution one encounters when walking or cycling can be really objectionable and lets face it, not great for our health. Lets hope that parties competing for power during the elections will develop practical and effective plans to eliminate pollution from our roads as well as encourage healthy forms of getting about. We shall continue to lobby for this as well as for removal of older vehicles and second hand buses and for controls on idling among other measures.

    We live in a glorious part of the World. So it was very sad to witness the days of heavy pollution from the neighbouring CEPSA Oil Refinery and associated industry first on New Years day, and then, some 10 days later. This kind of pollution is totally out of place in a world where technology is moving in leaps and bounds for alternative clean and sustainable methods in production resulting in safe environments. The ESG is following up at various levels to seek support for accountability on these major, cross border polluting incidences.

    Look out for the expected noise pollution to start from tonight in the South District for the next week resulting from the removal and transportation of over 200 containers bound for Rooke housing project. While warned to expect this noise it remains to be seen if this will be tolerable OR whether some other way of proceeding will need to be found.

    Meetings with the Ministry for the Environment have started with constructive discussions we shall be following up on. Clean up the World matters have also seen energy invested to rectify some long-term issues. We are grateful to those who are responding that will result in a cleaner and healthier Gibraltar and to our volunteer partners who keep in touch throughout the year reporting litter related problems.

    The ESG will publish their latest Objectives for consideration in this Election year before the end of January. We will be include our thoughts on Gibraltar’s Climate Strategy outlining the need for urgency and cross party approach, led from the top.

    Please refer to our website at www.esg-gib.net  for all our press statements and other links.

    Thanks for listening and best wishes to all for a healthy New Year.

    Indorama Fire – Cause must be determined – 01.01.23

    ESG Statement reFire at Petrochemical Plant – Indorama factory in San Roque

    “ Yet another fire at a petrochemical plant in San Roque this morning greeted in the New year. While the emergency response was swift, the ESG is most concerned about the widespread nature of the vast plumes of toxic smoke that escaped the plant and blew, this time, over Algeciras town and many residential areas. The ESG challenges the claim by Spanish Authorities that the thick smoke, while odorous, is not toxic. 

    Swallowing or inhaling hydrocarbons (released by such fires) can cause lung irritation, with coughing, choking, shortness of breath, and neurological problems. Severe symptoms can be produced if inhaled in quantity. The advice of closing windows, as the only health advice given by the authorities, is wholly inadequate and citizens should be guided to report to their hospitals with any symptoms. 

    This latest accident highlights the dangers of siting chemical industries in a densely populated Bay and the cause and safety procedures must be urgently reviewed.
    Algeciras bore the brunt today, but, next time, who knows where the winds may blow. The ESG calls upon Government to follow up on the Spanish reports to ensure that highest standards follow in the handling of these combustible products stored mere kilometres away from Gibraltar.”

    ESG Christmas 2022 Radio Broadcast

    This broadcast will mark the end of 2022 and what a year it has been for many of us. Among the highs and lows comes perhaps the most important of all, looking after our nest, homeland and planet without which we would not be able to enjoy much, let alone our families, or any new possession or gift to be shared during the coming weeks.

    The world is seeing so much chaos and disruption, suffering and hardship that it is also hard for many of us to fully relax and enjoy the moment but hopefully we will be able to treat ourselves to a few days of just that without the cloud of Covid that has separated so many of us during the past few Christmases.

    Back to the environment –The ESG continues to focus on many issues we have campaigned on since we started in the year 2000. There was no environmental agenda let alone policy and Gibraltar really needed to catch up badly. Clearly much progress has been made and conservationists and environmentalists who follow the issues very closely know just how much ground has been covered.

    Of course our unique circumstances, population size and land footprint is always going to affect just how quickly and precisely by how much we can achieve some of the trickier targets necessary. What’s clear is we need to do this as a community and aim for achieving the best possible environment we can. We don’t think we are always getting it right, or in the right order or fast enough. We shall continue to press for these aims especially where it comes to environmental safety, pollution and climate change.

    Since 2003 the ESG has published a Wish list that covers our interest and concerns with local, regional and global environmental issues. Looking ahead to the next local elections we are currently putting together our current objectives that will reflect issues as we see them and what we believe should be done to address these. Some are more obvious than others. Our wish list has helped inform our community for years and we hope, depoliticise environmental issues to a more factual base for action. We will campaign with all parties standing for election going forward and will also be publishing our current document on our website with links on social media etc.

    We would like to thank the public for their longstanding support. Also to our volunteers and sponsors who each year engage with us on important community wide projects. We take heart too on the growing awareness and activism on environmental protection and appreciation in our community today in many sectors.

    ESG wishes all a peaceful and joyous Christmas and a healthy and hopeful Green New year.

    Website: esg-gib.net for more information.

    ESG Radio Newsletter 24.11.22

    Today we wanted to refer to a number of recent developments of particular interest to us.

    For instance many will be familiar with the Litter Campaign we run called Clean up the World. Also involving many of our schools, this campaign attracts the young and old to take actions that will benefit our environment and hometown. CUTW reports have been produced and follow up begins as we continue to highlight ongoing issues and campaign targets going forward.

    With COP27 barely round the corner we admit to being stunned at the news of the major project envisaged as part of the new FIFA Football Stadium.  Leaving the economic argument aside – which has already had quite some airing – we are concerned and interested to know how this large football stadium and associated economic generating infrastructure will meet our Climate Targets already set out? The last project approved by DPC was for smaller capacity and included solar energy among other green features. Climate change should be defining all our major activity and demands this project reaches highest possible energy saving, and lowest possible carbon footprint. We will be monitoring this project closely.

    The ESG believes development is moving too fast and not allowing our creaking infrastructure to match this pace. Plans have been filed to increase sewage capacity for the Eastside Project. But what of the rest of the town? It is time the Sewage treatment project is launched and other waste facilities also brought up to speed!!

    Moving on to Rosia Bay and the recent official notice released by Government. The ESG, GONHS, NAUTILUS Project and HERITAGE TRUST have jointly issued a statement welcoming this notice, which is looking at a more holistic approach. The Statement said the groups take further encouragement that the invitation does not refer to residential development, which is a very firm red line, as would be any building of significant massing at the site – including on the platform – that obscures the historic monuments at the site.

    Please make a note for the next DPC mtg taking place on the 15th December, which will be the last one for 2022. The ESG would like to see us revert to physical meetings, live streamed, allowing the community to be present and giving a higher profile to decisions, which, after all, affect us all as we continue to develop at the pace we do today.

    Thanks for listening and go to esg-gib.net for more statements and information on issues we follow.