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  • ESG concerned re Lack of Captain of the Port and new Tank Farm application

    The ESG wish to make reference to a number of recent developments concerning our environment which are of public interest.

    The first relates to ongoing developments and Govt announcements on the Port area. The departure of a highly qualified Captain in the middle of the current activity and recent major accident is a serious worry. Regardless of the circumstances behind Captain Hall’s decision the ESG believes an equally experienced and qualified replacement should be a top priority for Government. Part of Captain Hall’s mission in bringing an increasingly busy port into 21st century was raising operational standards, especially in the area of environmental safety, and it is vital that this programme of critical change is maintained under a new Captain.

    The second matter relates to an application for a Tank Farm going haltingly forward through the planning application process, if indeed it is still current. It is, however, crucial that we give this project prominence as its impact, if permitted, will be widely felt within several residential areas. The issue concerns a new tank farm comprising of nine tanks with a total capacity of 490 tonnes of lubricant oil to supply visiting vessels. This new proposal is shocking given the recent explosion at the Sullage Tanks at Western Arm the accident report of which, while promised, has not yet been published.

    The ESG is also concerned about the proximity of the proposed tank farm to residential areas that could be affected by increased shipping movements in the area and associated noise and more air pollution. The development and expansion of the cruise terminal at Western Arm also calls for a halt to further industrialisation of the area. It’s clear that pollution could occur from increased fuel activity leading to problems for our desalination intakes, nearby swimming areas and the marine environment itself.

    The Gibraltar Development Plan does state that the land earmarked for this possible tank farm is designated as port land and for light industry use, port services etc. However, given the new housing development in the area whose residents have been promised a cleaner environment with the imminent departure of the power generating station, the last thing, we are certain, they wish to hear, is more industries setting up bringing with them associated environmental impacts and problems.

    Clearly an EIA on this project is necessary and the public given ample opportunity to review its findings. But, above all, Government must decide on the side of the public and protection of quality of life which is already impaired in an area afflicted by port and shipping activity as well as by a generating station and desalination plant.

    New decisions taken today must reflect a government that has learnt lessons of conflict and impact from past chaotic planning decisions and must not add to them.