There has been “no real improvement” but a further “deterioration” in air quality in Gibraltar over the past year, GSD MP Trevor Hammond said in his budget address.
Mr Hammond called out on the delays in providing an environment plan which would safeguard the environment for future generations.
Responding to Environment Minister Prof John Cortes’ claim that steady improvements have been made to air quality, Mr Hammond said few “trust the data gathering on which that science is based”.
Mr Hammond said where the data is gathered from is also important and was surprised data had not yet been collected in the Waterport area, where there’s the construction of a new school, cruise liners, the power station and heavy traffic.
He also called for a mobile air monitoring station which can be moved to potential hot spots.
With reference to the new power station, Mr Hammond added: “We will therefore have a power station in the heart of our urban environment, indeed the Government is moving all of our secondary education closer to it, which does not have the best possible technology to clean emissions and therefore may not reliably provide the cleaner air that we so much desire.”
Mr Hammond said “marine pollution is extremely damaging to the environment and public health” from repairs carried out in Gibdock, and said as our local community grows and changes, it is necessary for industry to move with the times, otherwise “we would be living in Dickensian conditions of smog”.
He said the Government will be doing the community a “grave disservice” if they failed to impose the requirement for shore supplied power to vessels under repair while renegotiating a new lease with the dockyard.
Mr Hammond highlighted noise pollution in the dockyard area but also in the many construction sites across Gibraltar, including complaints made about the noise levels coming from the new school construction sites.
The number of vehicles and the type of vehicle are also of concern, and Mr Hammond said the government must find ways to encourage greater use of vehicles ideally suited to Gibraltar’s roads.
Old buses, lorries and older vehicles run on diesel also contribute to poorer air quality, and Mr Hammond said an increase in diesel prices would discourage ownership.
He called on businesses to take environmental responsibilities by making greater use of electric vehicles.
The management of parking has an impact on air pollution as well, and Mr Hammond calls on a better parking plan to stop people “driving in endless circles” seeking parking.
Mr Hammond said Gibraltar is a long way from the target of getting 20% of its energy from renewables by 2020, but says the new solar panel roofs in New Harbours is a start and this is to be commended.
While he believes private planning projects are well managed in terms of the environment, Mr Hammond raises doubts about government projects being put through the same impact assessments.
Mr Hammond said last year a promise was made that “Gibraltar would sparkle”, but there are complaints from residents and visitors that Gibraltar is “dirty”.
He called for the Government to lead by example by fulfilling its civic duty in maintaining Gibraltar clean.
Mr Hammond said Potholes, cracks, crumbling surfaces, uneven paving stones, poorly marked crossings and road markings and confusing signs have made Gibraltar’s streets go “beyond a joke”.
Mr Hammond said road safety is of serious concern, and calls for proper investment in our roads.
Mr Hammond said Gibraltar’s many natural attractions need to be “nurtured and marketed”. He said figures show both tourist numbers and tourist expenditure plummeted in its first two years since this government gained office.
According to Mr Hammond, in 2011, tourist expenditure was at £280m, and for 2017 that figure was at £252m. He said that if the government would have maintained the 2011 figure, the economy would have benefited around £396m from tourism.
There has been a rise in cruise liners visiting Gibraltar, but local shopkeepers have complained they aren’t buying locally.
Mr Hammond calls for targeted investment into tourism, but said the lack of adequate parking facilities for tourists is of serious concern.
Mr Hammond questions whether the new suspension bridge and Skywalk viewing platform were accounted for in the blue print for the Gibraltar Nature Reserve Management Plan 2016.
Mr Hammond called for improvements of facilities for the Gibraltar Fire and Rescue Service as matter of “great urgency”.