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    Rosia Bay petition handed in to the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo. Pic by Johnny Bugeja (Chronicle)


    15th October 2021

    A petition with nearly 5,500 signatures opposing the proposed development of Rosia Bay was handed to Chief Minister Fabian Picardo on Friday.

    The petition was last month launched online by The Nautilus Project some 24 hours after the Rosia Bay project was brought before the Development and Planning Commission.

    Local NGOs Environmental Safety Group, GONHS and The Gibraltar Heritage Trust have joined in their support for the petition against the plan to build up to 75 residential properties in the historic, but rundown Rosia Bay.

    Lewis Stagnetto, of the Nautilus Project, told the Chronicle the organisation is opposed to private and residential purposes on the site, partly from the environmental perspective.

    “There are a lot of key species in the basin, it is an important nursery ground and the idea of developing that area is worrying to us,” Mr Stagnetto said.

    “There is also a lot of heritage value because that is where Admiral Nelson was brought in to Gibraltar and it is also a recreational area for a lot of people.”

    The petitioners said they will support the preservation and restoration of Rosia Bay as a “natural, historical and public treasure”.

    Mr Stagnetto said there are three main pillars that people have commented on with regards to this site.

    People want the area to be restored to its former glory as a heritage site, but they also want it to remain open for recreational use by members of the public, and they want the environment to be protected, Mr Stagnetto said.

    ESG, GONHS and the Gibraltar Heritage Trust all voiced their opposition about the proposal during the DPC meeting.

    Janet Howitt, of the ESG, said: “The petition arose from the furore online after the project was presented to the DPC.”

    “All three NGOs feel very similar, that it is not fit for purpose, it is not suitable for the area, and it doesn’t tick any of the boxes.”

    “So we wanted to run a public campaign and people know how we feel about it.”

    “The Nautilus Project launched a petition 24 hours after that and thousands of signatures were collected within 48 hours, so we think the community agrees that this is not going to happen, but we want to make sure.”

    In the GSLP/Liberal party election manifesto for 2019, the party committed to a restoration of Rosia Bay and its mole as well as the building of a Military Museum.

    Dr Keith Farrell, Chairman of the Gibraltar Heritage Trust, said that while the Trust would want to see this commitment materialise.

    “We understand that there are financial constraints, but it doesn’t mean that you trash that promise and then put in a commercial enterprise to deface that area where there are no substantial provisions for parking, for sewage,” Dr Farrell said.

    “And then tag on the repair of the Mole which is historically extremely valuable quite apart from all the environmental issues that need to be cared for.”

    “The mole needs repairing and we need to look for an alternative way, and at least secure it for the next few winters because the winter storms are a problem.”

    “We understand the urgency of trying to repair this but the commercial route is not the answer.”

    Dr Farrell said it has gone from an ex-MOD controlled area, to just being abandoned, and the public has never been able to enjoy it properly.

    Dr Keith Bensusan, of GONHS, said Rosia Bay is a special place in Gibraltar where the natural environment and heritage are “in synergy”, but is “desperately in need” of refurbishment.

    “That refurbishment has to be done that is extremely sensitive to the site’s heritage and natural value and the site needs to be accessible to the public, every last bit of it,” Dr Bensusan added.

    He said that the project is still “very early days” of the planning process, but remains confident that the project will be voted against by members of the DPC.