• Search
    Latest News
  • ESG react to Green MEP visit to the Rock 21/08/14

    ESG and Green MEP visit to the Rock

     The ESG regrets the missed opportunity of meeting with SW’s first Green MEP, Molly-Scott Cato, who now also represents Gibraltar in Brussels, on her recent visit here.

    In a climate where most MEPs can enjoy meeting directly with Government, something that was not the case in the past, the ESG reiterates the need for all MEPs to include meetings with important stakeholders such as NGOs, actively taking on issues at European Commission level.

    We intend to make direct contact with Ms Molly-Scott Cato and will draw her attention to the sustained campaigns run by the ESG in Brussels, hoping to enlist her support. This is crucial to maintain the efforts by her predecessors, Conservative Neil Parish, and later, Liberal MEP Sir Graham Watson, who have recognised and supported our work with considerable time and use of their resources.

    We will brief her on the facts that since 2002, the ESG, assisted by local law firm, Hassan’s International, has had official complaints lodged with the EC against serious breaches of environmental legislation by multinational petrochemical plants in San Roque, given its size and scale of operation affecting the entire bay, population and living environment. The group has repeatedly flagged numerous incidences of a regional, cross border, environmental nature, progress on which is impeded by long-term political troubles.

    Over the years our group has been instrumental, via public and behind the scenes campaigns, in seeing through fundamental improvements at the Oil Refinery as a result of using EU pressure, cross border campaigns and gathering of scientific data. It is still necessary for the ESG to highlight particular episodes of heavy contamination to the EC as they occur, as well as periodically check that ongoing improvements are indeed happening to bring the plant up to modern environmental standards, as it is realistically impossible to shut down this monster.

    That is one example of the need for our MEPs to be fully briefed by us on our long-term work and aims. Secondly, our Western Beach complaint fronted by Sir Graham Watson is also far from over. We have organised protests and met with several MEPs on this issue, as it is not only a matter of inconvenience that La Linea is dumping raw sewage right next to our public spaces and nearby local residential area, but also a matter of public health concern. Spain has repeatedly lied to the EC about this problem being over. Data gathered by local environmental agency demonstrates this contamination outside of the bathing season to be pretty much a constant with illegal levels persistently recorded.

    Many files with anecdotal information and data have been submitted to all MEPs over the years and it is through this pressure that the EC, at least, is claiming to be looking at the issue. It has not taken legal action or instructed Spain to act on this within a deadline. There certainly has been no inspection to verify what the ESG has been consistently telling the EC.

    It is important therefore that the Green MEP informs herself of these issues also so that she can support our work in Brussels. Another area where we are active is in highlighting major environmental developments to the EC by Spain, for example, the giant fuel tank farm with no cross border environmental study or notification taking place. Another example is where Spain was recording dangerous levels of nickel in the bay area caused by heavy industry. Even though EU legislation is frighteningly slow, pressure must be maintained by NGOs, and support must come from every sector of society, including government and MEPS.

    The MEP expressed interest in marine conservation and we will highlight how the heavy industry in the bay has, for years, dumped large volumes of toxic waste into the bay waters causing toxic contamination to build up in the area. The rampant urbanisation and large-scale reclamation, wherever it occurs, must also come under the microscope regarding its clear impacts on marine conservation.

    Finally, and most importantly, we will definitely share with her, as our MEP, bay wide concerns about the mortality rates in the area that are much higher than elsewhere in the Iberian peninsula. There are numerous studies that show a correlation between industrial emissions and health impacts and European citizens living on each side of the border are deeply concerned that we are falling foul from these toxic emissions.

    The group would also like an opportunity to share its views on the concerns raised by the Green MEP when in Gibraltar and give our independent views as an apolitical, grassroots, environmental NGO.

    ESG Committee