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Govt and GSD at odds on air quality

The Gibraltar Government last night reacted to GSD criticisms of its air quality monitoring programme by insisting it was already expanding its sampling infrastructure around the Rock.

The reaction came after the GSD questioned the government’s decision to monitor air quality at the frontier, and suggested that the Waterport area would be a better alternative.

This Opposition’s statement was in response to the government’s plans to conduct an air quality monitoring study at the frontier over the next two years.

The party said that while all air quality monitoring is “of value in order to help understand what pollution levels are in Gibraltar”, it should be carried out in “one of the community’s most densely populated areas”.

But, hitting back later that day, the Government said that contrary to the GSD’s statement the Environmental Agency will install new air quality monitoring devices in the North district this September.

The programme forms part of the Department of the Environment’s expansion of the Air Quality Monitoring Network which will see air quality data collected from the Waterport area as well as the frontier. Similar monitoring devices will also be installed in the South District as a quality control measure.

Trevor Hammond, GSD environment spokesman said: “Any form of air quality study will always be welcome and I look forward to hearing the results of this study at the frontier.”

“I do however have to question why the frontier has been chosen over the area of Waterport for such a study.”

“Whereas the frontier sees people passing through relatively quickly, Waterport has a large number of residences and shops in close proximity as well as being the location of the Government’s new mega school.”

“Almost all children between the ages of eleven and eighteen will spend a significant proportion of their day in this area, it would seem sensible for such a study to have been conducted there as a matter of urgency.”

“Pollution at the frontier is caused by traffic in frontier queues, which is very much transient. Pollution at Waterport is caused not only by traffic, the Waterport roundabout is a significant pinch point, but the area is also subject to pollution from the cruise terminal, port, bus terminal and power generation.”

“Combine this cocktail of sources of pollution with the high density of the population in the area, as well as the mega school, shops and Main Street it is surely more important to conduct a study in this area, where pollution affects so many people in our community.”

“I call on Government, as I have done previously, to commission an independent study in this area as a matter of urgency. It is a higher priority to our community than the frontier.”

Additionally, the Government explained that the device at the frontier, which Mr Hammond referred to, forms part of an occupational exposure assessment whereas the Waterport monitoring station is geared towards monitoring the impacts of power generation and road traffic pollution.

The new equipment to be deployed in Gibraltar is widely used in the UK by Local Authorities and will have the ability to monitor pollutants such as Particulate Matter, Nitrogen Oxide and Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide and Ozone.

Data collected will be incorporated into the existing data management programme of the Gibraltar Air Quality Monitoring Programme.

The Department will use these data to formulate evidence-based policies to ensure that air quality in different parts of Gibraltar meets EU standards.

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