GSD seeks clarification on Verdemar meeting

GSD seeks clarification on Verdemar meeting

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GSD seeks clarification on Verdemar meeting

GSD Opposition calls on the Minister for the Environment to provide details of discussions held with Verdemar.

The GSD Opposition notes that Dr Cortes met with the Campo environmental pressure group Verdemar on 13th November 2012, as confirmed in the Government’s own press release 756 of 2012, where the Minister explained that the meeting was ‘very positive’ and that there was a ‘discussion which included wide-ranging topics.’.

The GSD however, further notes that the only detail of what these ‘wide-ranging topics’ were, is found in an article in the Spanish Newspaper, ‘La Razon’, which claims that Minister Cortes assured Verdemar that there would be no fuel bunkering on the Eastside, that vessels will only be allowed to anchor in the area at a distance of 1.5 miles from shore, with an exclusion zone around the artificial reef of 150 metres and that there will be no further reclamation on the Eastside. Importantly, the article then goes on to say that Minister Cortes ‘guaranteed the delivery of their manifesto commitment to end offshore bunkering,” even though the manifesto only promises that the Government ‘will examine the possibilities’ for it.

The Opposition considers that any such assurances that there will be no further reclamation on the Eastside, affects Gibraltar’s potential economic development in future. Such statements and assurances should not be made or given in Spain but should be made here in Gibraltar where the Minister is accountable.

If these reports are accurate, the Opposition reminds the Minister that he is accountable only in Gibraltar and that he would do well to reign in his enthusiasm for the environmental agenda if that enthusiasm represents unchecked ambition to drive the agenda forward, whatever the social, economic or political dangers he may expose Gibraltar to in so doing.

“We are giving the Minister the benefit of the doubt but he should make an immediate statement clarifying exactly what was said and what assurances he gave. It’s one thing to meet with environmental NGOs and make a general statement of intent about his policy on the environment. It is quite another to make specific commitments to foreign pressure groups who then go on to say that they have secured a follow-up meeting to ‘check on compliance with the objectives’ and the Minister apparently agreed” said Selwyn Figueras, Opposition spokesman for the Environment.

Mr. Figueras concluded by saying, “I look forward to hearing what exactly transpired during that meeting.”

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GSD seeks clarification on Verdemar meeting

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