Joint Press Release 8th September 2021
The ESG, GONHS and GHT are vehemently opposed to a development that is being proposed at Rosia Bay.
The site is hugely important to Gibraltar as a community, leisure, heritage and ecological area, not to mention its international significance to European naval history.
The scheme proposes residential development of up to 75 residential units, despite the site being designated as a tourism, leisure, and recreational area only by the Gibraltar Development Plan 2009. Furthermore, in 2016 the DPC unanimously rejected a proposed residential development at Rosia Bay that included only six apartments. The GSLP/Liberal party election manifesto in 2019 included plans for the restoration of the Bay and the provision of a recreational facility which is more in line with preserving the value and setting of this special place.
The Scoping Report for the EIA process for the proposal was today ratified on majority by the DPC. Significantly, no imagery or plans have been submitted to date to inform the scoping report.
Aside from the residential units, the proposal also includes commercial units, onsite residential and commercial parking facilities, the extension of the current concrete platform and coastline westwards by about 12m which will include coastal protection works and a crown wall of approximately 3-4m in height.
Privatisation of any part of the Bay is unacceptable. Marring of the heritage value of structures at or around the site is unacceptable. Our view is that any development that includes a residential element or significant massing at the site should not be entertained from the outset, and we cannot comprehend why a project that includes residential development is being considered.
We are confident that the public will join us in urging that development at Rosia Bay focuses solely on restoring the heritage asset and providing public amenity. The site deserves it, and so do Gibraltar’s people.
GONHS notes the oil spill within BGTW in the Bay of Gibraltar on Friday, which is reported to have been caused by a valve problem on the Liberian-flag bulk carrier AM Ghent, during a bunkering operation by an unnamed bunkering operator.
Oil spills can have a devastating impact on a wide variety of marine life; pelagic, coastal and intertidal alike. Furthermore, they cause long-lasting detrimental effects on food chains and species’ biologies. Sadly and predictably, oiled seabirds are already being reported. These are always the most visual casualties of these destructive events and, even after intervention, survivorship of oiled birds is low.
GONHS calls upon the Port of Gibraltar to carry out a full and public investigation into the cause of the spill, which should have been contained if procedures were followed. If Gibraltar wants to be seen to lead on environmental matters then we cannot afford such accidents.
The Department of the Environment and Gibraltar Veterinary Clinic are working to attempt to save any birds that are found oiled. Any such birds observed should be reported to 58009620.
The advent of digital photography has resulted in many people taking an interest in wildlife through photography. GONHS welcomes this surge in interest in photographing wildlife and birds in particular. Any form of enjoyment of the natural environment is positive, so long as it does not prejudice the well-being of wildlife.
The golden rule of responsible wildlife watching is that the animals come first. Bird photography must be conducted ethically, with the well-being of the birds as the primary consideration.
In recent years, GONHS has grown increasingly concerned at the attention given by photographers to regular perches and nesting sites of some of our nesting birds of prey, especially Peregrine Falcons. In their eagerness to get better photos, some photographers have got closer to these sites than is safe for these birds. Such disturbance could cause the birds to abandon their food and nests, even after eggs have been laid. It is illegal under the Nature Protection Act.
GONHS urges all wildlife photographers to adhere to the law and follow a code of conduct that puts animals first. A safe distance must always be kept from regular perches and nests, and photographs should be taken from established roads, lookouts or paths. Anyone who sees behaviour that could result in disturbance should report this to the HMGOG Environmental Protection & Research Unit (EPRU) or the Royal Gibraltar Police.
Finally, GONHS hopes that all lovers of nature are able to enjoy the natural environment this spring, with cameras or without. When done responsibly, this is of benefit to people and wildlife alike.
What was going to be a relaxing boat ride around the Rock for Clayton Busto and his young son Jake, turned out to be an unexpectedly exciting day with the successful rescue of a young Cinereous (also known as Black) Vulture, which they found in the sea a few hundred metres just off Europa Advance Road.
Press Release 4 December 2019
On the 25 October 2019 a female Common Kestrel was brought ashore at the Port of Gibraltar from the visiting cruise ship P&O Arcadia. It had been seeking refuge on one of the ship’s decks after the vessel had sailed through bad weather in the Strait of Gibraltar.
The bird was found by one of the passengers on board and was seen to be suffering from starvation and in an extremely weak condition. It was originally handed in to staff at the Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park, which in turn handed it over to the GONHS Raptor Unit, which continued with its care and rehabilitation.
The Kestrel spent a month at the rehabilitation centre and was released on the 25th November after recovering fully from its ordeal.
GONHS invites people to join in its celebration of BirdLife International’s EuroBirdwatch on Saturday 5th October 2019, in order to discover the fascinating world of bird migration. During this time of the year, millions of migratory birds leave Europe, flying to their wintering places in the south. The event will be celebrated by GONHS and other BirdLife Partners across Europe and Central Asia, From Uzbekistan to Portugal, from Norway to Greece.
The overall aim of the EuroBirdwatch is to raise awareness for the needs of migratory birds at breeding areas, flyways and stopovers, and in their wintering grounds in the Mediterranean and Africa.
GONHS Election Wish List
* Immediate action towards carbon neutrality, in accordance with the Climate Emergency declaration.
* The aims of the Coalition for Climate Action to be acted upon, with fully-effective policies on transport, development, energy, pollution and waste.
* Assessment of biodiversity loss in the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, with management measures to halt this.
* Assessment of remaining green sites that lie outside the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, with quantification of the proportion of Gibraltar’s biodiversity held outside the Gibraltar Nature Reserve and effective measures to conserve these species.
* Preservation and enhancement of The Mount’s mature woodland habitat in a fully natural state, respecting all structures and features.
* An effective biodiversity action plan to reverse biodiversity loss at North Front Cemetery - the only remaining vestige of rich isthmus habitat - in a manner that is commensurate with its use as a cemetery by the community.
* Effective control and removal of feral cats from the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, as these pose a serious threat to native wildlife including Barbary Partridges.
The Upper Rock
* Improvement of signage and interpretation in the Gibraltar Nature Reserve.
* Information booklets on wildlife and heritage for visitors.
* Wardens to enforce wildlife laws, including the illegal feeding of Barbary Macaques.
* Greater enforcement of conservation laws at sea.
* Protection of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna under the schedules of the Nature Protection Act.
* A clear target for the prompt completion of the Waste Water Treatment Plant.
* Increase minimum distance from the shore for ships at anchor.
Planning & the Urban Environment
* Tree Preservation Orders for all trees that are known to hold regular roosts of birds.
* Smart and sensitive lighting in all areas that are used as habitat by bats and nocturnal birds, and removal of unnecessary lighting where this is not necessary, further helping to reduce our carbon footprint.
* The adoption as Town Planning Policy of avoidance measures to avoid collision by birds against glass balconies and buildings.
* Greater emphasis on natural green roofs, even when solar panels are installed.
* Continued greening of urban zones including street planting, and strategies such as nest boxes to encourage urban wildlife.
The GONHS and Gibraltar Heritage Trust welcome the announcement by HMGoG regarding the future of The Mount and its grounds. For many years both NGOs have monitored and highlighted concern in respect to the gradual dilapidation and neglect that this important heritage and natural history site is undergoing. Over the years there have been a number of proposals made that have not addressed conservation concerns for the site. In 2015, in relation to a call for Expressions of Interest for the site, our respective NGOs came together to issue a statement laying out our expectations and concerns for the preservation of the Mount and its grounds amid speculation that the site would be sold off for private development. Those expectations remain.
We note the significance of the Government’s statement the “the site is of considerable heritage and environmental importance and after much consideration, it is clear that this cannot be married with the commercial development of the site, no matter how sensitively this is done”. It is clear that there will be opportunities for commercial aspects to arise, such as in the wedding and events market, but the investment in the restoration of the grounds and the site as required will be of a value that goes beyond what is measurable.
We believe that a project of this nature is suitable and appropriate for The Mount. The Discovery Centre and Exhibition Space is a further exciting prospect that will foster skills and interests for future generations. The announcement does not so far go into much detail on the proposals for the main building or natural assets but we look forward to working with the Government of the day on the details of this project, so as to conserve and revive the heritage and environmental values of this site that has played such a key role in Gibraltar and Britain's naval history.
Note to Editors: A copy of the 2015 statement can be found here
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