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  • ESG 2010 News Review

    Today’s newsletter is rather special. We have selected environmental highlights during 2010 which we hope gives an idea of what we have been up to these past 12 months.

    • January saw us setting up a new office in town to hold our files and have a central point in which to work and have regular meetings. The office has served us well so far and was set up with the help of ESG volunteers who worked very hard to get everything in place and in good order. Our heartfelt thanks are expressed here.

    • We also launched a brand new website funded and built with the support of the Bonita Trust. We continue to maintain and update the site in the knowledge of its growing local and global use. If you haven’t yet visited our site, please do so on www.esg-gib.net.

    • We worked hard in the first quarter to renew our Constitution to allow wider funding opportunities to help us take the big step of running our own office. Our AGM held at the time was well attended and saw various changes and proposals passed.

    • Talks were given to schools and associations.

    • The first of four separate Clean Ups took place in collaboration with the Port, St John’s Cadets and ESG members, tackling a seafront location badly affected by storm debris.

    • March saw the first Spanish TV Crew from Canal Sur, Seville visit Gibraltar to film the ESG and our bucket brigade sampling work. This was for a series called Tierra y Mar. Although the programme was initially censored by CEPSA it was eventually screened, albeit in the middle of the night! and only after the refinery was given extra air time!

    • Another film crew, this time from Barcelona, also visited the Bay concerned about the European Parliaments’ statement of the need for proper health studies to be done at a cross border level in Gibraltar and Spain to establish health impacts from industrial pollution. The programme was for a nationwide TV channel whose producer was also shocked to witness firsthand both the gagging of the local Spanish press – on matters of health and the environment – and experience firsthand CEPSA’s ability to control media when their own programme was prevented from being screened at the eleventh hour until such time as CEPSA was given, yes, extra air time. – Apparently, like its Seville predecessor the programme was incomplete and needed a further interview from the Oil Giant. This didn’t surprise us in Gibraltar, or our Spanish NGO colleagues in the least! We were all delighted with the end product though which was eventually shown late at night. Called “Algo Huele Mal” , its a hard hitting documentary showing the severe impact the refinery is having on frontline residents. Our task was to highlight how Gibraltar is also affected by this massive industry.

    • During April we coordinated another seafront clean up, this time, Rosia Bay which was in a dreadful state from storm debris. Gibraltar Community Projects offered assistance.

    • The ESG hosted the Cop to Cap which involved a renewable energy campaigner, travelling across two continents in an eye catching electric car supported by an impressive environmental exhibition. Their aim was to visit as many countries as possible on their journey to South Africa promoting the benefits of green energy and practices towards sustainable living.

    • The ESG celebrated Earth Day with a street stall and then prepared for our second ever meeting with CEPSA management. We used the meeting to challenge their operational stds as exposed by an audit carried out on the plant after public pressure succeeded in moving La Junta to act. However, this audit had been kept secret until our legal advisers, Hassan’s, obtained a copy under Freedom of Access to Env Information Directive- we had the documents translated and posted on our website. The audit was also sent to Brussels and given to other NGO’s.

    • We later met Neil Parish’s replacement, MEP Ashley Fox and briefed him soundly on this serious issue. He pledged to continue Neil’s work in Brussels in support of our refinery campaign.

    • Yet another TV Crew journeyed south to Gibraltar in June, this time from France curious to cover the shipping issues in the bay- while we participated in the film we made sure they included the environmental impact from the oil refinery. You can also see this programme on the internet under REPORT 24.

    • Another health study emerges from a Spanish University this time linking industrial emissions with heightened illness and mortality- we translated and published this report on our website. You can download this study under “Resources” in either English or Spanish.

    • The summer saw preparations begin for Septembers annual Clean Up, this being our 6th participation, which requires much networking and liaison with schools, businesses and associations.

    • We also organised a trip to Los Barrios Waste Separation Plant- it’s incredible to see how much mixed waste is rec’d by this plant from all Bay towns including Gibraltar. It takes so much time and energy to separate what is good for recycling – organic waste has to settle and decompose and soiled paper and card ends up in landfill. We need to step up and progress recycling programmes in Gibraltar and other Bay towns.

    • CUTW 2010 involved meetings and talks through the summer for planning purposes. September’s effort saw a total of close to thirty teams taking part (around 500 volunteers) and schools and youth clubs supporting the parade and exhibition. Thanks must go to our sponsors who each year help make the Clean up a very effective educational and awareness raising campaign. This year Govt has responded by taking on the cleaning of most of our sites and we hope this can be developed to include further actions to prevent littering from happening in the first place.

    • The ESG was invited to respond to Govts plans regarding the status of the Upper Rock. We presented a comprehensive response and included recommendations that Govt make full use of the management plan produced by the GONHS several years ago.

    • Scientists visiting the Rock in October to carry out an EIA on eastside bunkering led to various groups including the ESG being consulted for our views and concerns. We sincerely hope that the communities concerns will persuade Govt not to allow this expansion to go ahead.

    • We also addressed hundreds of students during this time on local and regional environmental issues and delivered our first presentation to a group of interested businesses and potential funders in the Rock Hotel which went well.

    • October also saw the “No! to Sewage Campaign” take off after publicly and privately expressing our concerns about the problem at Western Beach since April. This is sadly an ongoing problem and a number of protests have been held with our support as well as a paper and online petition calling for action to be taken. Further actions are planned for the next few weeks and we hope the Gibraltar community will support this effort.

    • November saw another clean up supported by the ESG- this time the Dolphin Youth Club members in an Upper Rock site. Master Services assisted in the removal of the rubbish collected.

    • The ESG continues to receive and log complaints from the public over intolerable smells and fumes whether from land or sea based sources. We help those affected as best we can and continue to lobby Govt and industry to improve standards and reduce pollution.

    • The end of 2010 saw two Viewpoint Discussion Programmes on GBC on the environment. After an absence of such programmes through the year these two drew quite a bit of comment from the community- calling for more of these programmes to be held to allow for greater public participation on issues which rightly, affect us all.

    Of course 2010 would not be complete if we didn’t mention dolphinariums, transport plans, power stations, action plans, Tripartite and the environment, Epid Studies and ultimately Climate Change. These will form part of our next radio newsletter in a fortnight’s time which we hope you will catch. You can also read past radio bulletins on our website which is www.esg-gib.net.

    Here’s hoping for a cleaner and healthier environment for all for 2011 and beyond!!