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  • ESG on Reclamation at Western Beach 07/09/14

    ESG on Western Beach Reclamation


    The ESG would like to clarify its position on Western beach reclamation project brought before DPC at the last meeting.  Although media coverage confirmed our opposition to this large loss of coastal water, it did not detail the many well-considered reasons why. Given public interest and our own members calling for clarification of our position, we would like to make these views public as stated at the DPC meeting.


    • The ESG would have expected the MoD, as key stakeholder affected by this project, and tasked with the responsibility of the safe running of our airport, to have been thoroughly consulted ahead of any DPC discussion
    • Fact that if our airport was of civilian status only it would not be allowed to operate due to the nature of activity around and on the runway itself (therefore all new activity needs to be heavily scrutinized in this context)
    • Airport security issues – although all involved do their best to manage and control activity around and through our airport today, this remains a very challenging situation already. Adding substantial use and increase of people and traffic movement right alongside the runway is increasing risk significantly; an issue that has to be studied at the highest level ensuring that we provide the safest flight scenario possible adhering to all International standards of safety and airport security
    • The question is now being discussed about the need for a global sporting policy for Gibraltar’s community to include UEFA stadium, Victoria Stadium Complex and all other facilities to fully gauge not just demand, but what is actually deliverable in a place the size of Gibraltar where there are many other demands for land -(Education, Eco Park and many more)
    • All studies show that this large reclamation will significantly impede water movement, flushing capacity and reduce water quality. This area is already badly contaminated and registering off the scale levels of sewage pollution outside of bathing season due to the so-called storm drain from La Linea carrying raw sewage from illegally connected pipework. In fact a second storm drain is going up as we speak at the old car park site in La Linea that will also enter Western Beach waters, worsening water quality further
    • Unless these discharges from La Linea are tackled, a large reclamation at Western Beach will create greater concentration of contamination in the area. This will create strong odours perceptible by residents, “kiosk” users, and users from the proposed reclaimed area. Indeed all signs are that Western Beach is slowly being condemned to no future public use
    • The fact that this reclamation signifies a major loss of coastal water and amenity important to many cannot be disregarded. The border difficulties have made such amenities all the more important as the majority of our community stay home in our time off. This infill also impacts on marine biodiversity and is in contrast to steps taken to improve/protect the environment by placing blocks to encourage marine life. The ESG would instead prefer to have the area cleaned up by finally seeing the La Linea discharge CLOSED and the gradual and sensitive expansion of the original programme for marine protection and conservation in the area that began with the dropping of the blocks


    In summary:- The ESG ends by stating it does not have an “in principle” issue with sport development in Gibraltar. It is also clear that in this case, the area was earmarked for development for some time now. However, under the previous Government, the plans for this project were secret, behind closed doors and never sought public feedback or approval. With the new public planning system in place today Government will note that important projects like Western Reclamation will provoke reactions from across the community. In this case, widespread opposition on serious grounds of airport security, need for greater environmental protection, loss of an important amenity and actual exacerbation of pollution present at Western Beach. It is hoped that Government will take the time needed to reconsider this project and convene a series of high-level meetings to rethink this proposal in light of the key issues presented at the DPC by several parties.