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Govt says TG criticism on trees is ‘unreasonable’

Eyleen Gomez

The Gibraltar Government has hit back at Together Gibraltar over its criticism of the loss of trees at the old Casino site, insisting the project has been through a detailed planning process and will result in a net increase in the number of trees in the area.

In a statement, the Government said TG had made no comment during a 10-year process to gain planning approval, adding that if the party was so concerned, “it should have tackled the matter long ago.”

And it cautioned that TG’s criticism risked undermining the work done by civil servants at the Department of the Environment.

“I know for a fact how hard my team works protecting and enhancing green areas,” said Dr John Cortes, the Minister for the Environment.

“One thing is to hit at the political Government on specific issues and another is to aim criticism at the delivery of the green policy as a whole, which public servants help frame and which they deliver.”

“I am sorry if Together Gibraltar feel uncomfortable at the loyalty that I have to my staff. But I do, and I will stand up for them.”

“I have a great team driving the green agenda and they deserve respect.”

“Covid-19 has taken its toll on our rolling out our work, but a great deal has been happening behind the scenes.”

“And on trees, well in the various parts of my career I have been personally involved in the planting of hundreds of trees around Gibraltar. And I will continue to do so. Just wait and see.”

The Government said that TG “seems not to be aware” that its “unreasonable” criticism of the Government could “upset and even anger” public servants who worked hard to assess, protect and enhance trees, and find locations for new ones when necessary.

It said the Casino site had gone through a thorough planning process at the Development and Planning Commission – whose decisions are independent of the Government – and had been “fully and publicly” discussed, including environmental aspects.

The project has changed as a result of this process, which has led to an increase in overall green area on the podium, roof and facade, and a net increase in the number of trees on the site, including native species, No.6 said.

The Government added that the Department of the Environment will ensure that all the many planning conditions relating to the environment are adhered to.

“These are in fact the strictest ‘green’ conditions ever imposed on any development in Gibraltar,” No.6 said.