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GSD flags North Mole pollution concerns

File photo dated 02/02/07 of car exhaust emissions. A study by researchers at the universities of Oxford and Bath found that pollution from cars and vans cost almost £6 billion in damage to health each year in the UK, with the worst impact from diesel vehicles. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday June 6, 2018. The research suggests that the health costs to the NHS and society was worst in cities, with the cost from the average car in inner London over the vehicle's lifetime on the road at £7,714. See PA story ENVIRONMENT Pollution. Photo credit should read: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

The GSD has said that Gibraltar’s air quality is in breach of EU regulations, as it indicated that levels of Nitrogen Dioxide in the North Mole area exceed the annual limits in one day.

The party was responding to concerns from residents around the North Mole power station, which the GSD echoed.

Residents of the residential estates surrounding the North Mole power station have been voicing their concerns on social media and privately, in relation to the fumes and effects of pollution being experienced on a daily basis, the GSD said.

“The GSD notes the readings published by Pollution Watch Gibraltar, the readings are being taken independently from a balcony at Sir William Jackson Grove as there are currently no air quality monitors in the district,” the party said adding that the statistics make worrying reading.

Highlighting Nitrogen Dioxide readings in the area, the GSD said that daily limits set by EU Directives is 106 ppb or 200µg m-3, with this limit not to be exceeded more than 18 times in one year, every hour during which levels exceed 106 ppb constitutes one breach.

According to the GSD this means that Gibraltar probably exceeds the annual limits in one day.

“Between the readings obtained from the North Mole area and those actually registered by the air quality monitors from the Department of the Environment in the South District, our air quality is in breach of this regulation,” the party said in a statement.

Shadow Minister for the Environment, Trevor Hammond, said: “We are always closely monitoring the situation, however, the level of complaints received in recent days has become unprecedented with persons complaining of physical consequences, mostly respiratory issues.”

“High levels of Nitrogen Dioxide are not isolated to the North Mole alone, with residents in the South District also expressing concern.”

“We cannot be complacent or attempt to point fingers, instead we must take heed of the situation and attempt to resolve contributing factors where possible, as radical or abrupt as it may require, but the health and safety of our community must come first before that of any commercial interests.”

“It is true to say that, we, as a community must embrace a social partnership to do our best, identifying and acknowledging our obligations as members of this community, whether it’s by increasing our individual recycling, walking or even making better choices when purchasing goods… reducing our individual footprint as best as we can.”
“We as politicians will not shrug our responsibility to always remain committed to openly explore and deliver better policies to improve our environment and air quality.”

Shadow Minister for Health and Care, Lawrence Llamas, said: “There are many recent studies associating air pollution to mental health, autism, cancer, COPD, obesity, education performances… a wide variety of concerns.”

“Some studies may be in their early stages and may not identify causes, however, others are conclusive and compelling.”

“We therefore cannot afford to underestimate the permanent damages to our community’s health. The GSD shall be looking into statistics locally in as many areas as possible and contrast these statistics with other jurisdictions.”