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  • ESG calls for review in jurisdiction and responsibilities

    Air pollution in the western and southern areas of Gibraltar continues to be high and is affecting the quality of life of many people. The ESG has been contacted several times in the past few weeks over what appears to be various types of offensive fumes causing concern and discomfort to residents. Anyone walking through Harbour Views, Gib V or Morrison’s car park (NB: next to Gibraltar’s main hospital) will be aware that the air often reeks of pungent and offensive fuel smells.

    Due to these reports the ESG has been contacting Government and the relevant agencies but has, so far, not had satisfactory answers. One clear stumbling block appears to be that management of our environment in Gibraltar is fragmented and could explain why little executive action has been taken to date.

    On the one hand, the Port authority has competence for addressing port issues but does not have the expertise or competence in matters relating to air quality or impacts from air pollution. On the other, the Environmental Agency has the contract to run air monitoring in Gibraltar but has no authority over port activities. This presents a dilemma in managing the environmental impacts emanating from a port which has been claimed to host the busiest bunkering service in the Mediterranean.

    The ESG urges Government to review this situation and allocate greater and independent powers to the Environmental Agency to enforce environmental legislation and best practice ( as per the Charter) throughout Gibraltar; in this instance, for vapour recovery systems to be used in all fuel handling operations.

    Gibraltar is too small – and public health too important – to have split responsibilities in these critical areas and it is not appropriate to expect technical decisions or assessments to be made by elected Ministers.

    A review in jurisdiction should not rule out urgent and necessary action by Government to eliminate air pollution originating from bunkering and marine traffic. Meanwhile the group awaits a response from Government as to the actions it will take to mitigate the presence of these nauseating and potentially harmful fumes.