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Gibraltar faces continued delay in exporting rubbish to Spain

Photo by Johnny Bugeja

Rubbish continues to pile up in Gibraltar due to post-Brexit delays in securing permits to transport it to recycling centres in Spain.

Household waste from Gibraltar used to be exported under the EU legal framework while Gibraltar was part of the European Union.

After the Brexit vote and the end of the transition period, however, Gibraltar moved to an alternative legal framework provided under international conventions.

This non-EU framework is different and involves processes and procedures that are more cumbersome and take more time.

“The export of rubbish is currently awaiting the finalisation and renewal of paperwork and approvals which has suffered some delays,” a spokesman for the Gibraltar Government said.

“In the event that these delays continue, steps will be taken to shred, bale and compact the rubbish, using the new contingency equipment that was supplied by the United Kingdom Government [as part of planning for a no deal Brexit].”

“This will increase the volume that can be stored until the waste can once again be exported.”

As part of planning for a so-called ‘no negotiated outcome’ to ongoing treaty talks, the UK funded equipment to ensure Gibraltar is able to handle waste in the event of problems transporting it into Spain.

Gibraltar now has in place machinery to shred waste, compact it and package it into bales that can be stored inside the Rock's tunnels to be shipped by sea to other countries, should the need arise.

"The storage capacity was increased from a few days to something like eight weeks," Dr Joseph Garcia, the Deputy Chief Minister, told the Chronicle in a recent interview.

The equipment has not been needed to date.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly that rubbish was exported to landfills in Spain. In fact, the rubbish is exported to nearby recycling centres in Spain. The article and headline have been corrected.

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