The Gibraltar Government has responded to Dr Axel Friedrich’s comments regarding air quality and pollution in Gibraltar, focusing on the concerns raised about ship-source emissions in the area.
“It should be noted that the report cites a particular reading at the time of departure of a cruise ship, when its engines are fully working,” a spokesman said.
“At such times there are of course expected to be peaks and these will be considerably higher than the average levels of emissions. This will be the same in any port.”
Referring to a comment that the level of pollution is higher here than in other ports, the spokesman said: “Peaks and averages cannot be directly compared, especially without considering the monitoring instruments and methodologies employed to obtain measurements and arrive at average levels.”
On that measuring equipment, the Government warned that careful consideration needs to be given to the methodology employed and to the specifications and the calibration of the instruments used, in order to properly study the significance of the results.
The Department of the Environment and Climate Change has requested this information from NABU, the organisation behind the measurements conducted by Dr Friedrich.
Addressing some of the issues raised by Dr Friedrich, the Government said: “Regarding a filter on the power station, we are doing better than that – we are closing it down.”
“The new power station is fitted with scrubbers and as it burns LNG will result in virtually no particles.”
“Air quality in the port area will improve considerably following the closing down of Waterport power station, and work has commenced to look at providing onshore solutions for vessels so that they do not need to keep their engines running while alongside,” it added.
The Government said that it supports NABU’s wider interest in reducing the sulphur content of fuel adding that this will require an international effort in the maritime industry.
“As previously announced, Gibraltar is proposing to introduce faculties, subject of course to all the necessary safety requirements, for LNG bunkering,” it said.
“This will make a considerable contribution to supporting the worldwide move to LNG as a marine fuel as opposed to diesel and other fuels, which are much more polluting and higher in sulphur and other substances,” it added.
In addition, the Minister for the Environment John Cortes, well known as a committed environmentalist, has offered to meet the German team to explain the work Gibraltar is doing to improve air quality.
Some of this work includes, “onshore power, changing from several very old diesel power stations to LNG, the traffic plan, promotion of electric and hybrid cars, among others,” it said.
“ The air quality in Gibraltar has improved in recent years as can be seen from published statistics,” it added.
The department did not meet with Dr Friedrich this visit because it said it was unaware he was coming. “He and his team were spotted by a resident of the area who informed the Department. Otherwise we would have gladly met and assisted,” said the Government.
In addition, it said it was not aware whether Gibraltar NGOs were advised and notes that NABU is a partner of Birdlife International, of which GONHS is the local partner.