Heritage, a victim of the Covid-19 pandemic in Gibraltar
By Keith Farrell
When the GSLP/Liberal party won the election in 2019 with pro-heritage manifesto commitments, which included the restoration of Rosia Bay and its historic Mole and the building of a Military Museum at Rosia, many people in Gibraltar, and especially the Gibraltar Heritage Trust breathed a sigh of relief. At long last the saga of the gradual deterioration of this historically unique bay and the many failed private proposals for the area was at an end. In addition, Gibraltar would be getting a fully dedicated military/naval museum, something that had been mooted for years.
Sadly Gibraltar, along with the rest of the world, was afflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic soon after the Government was re-elected. This not only caused and continues to cause many untimely deaths, but the cost of managing the pandemic locally has caused HMGoG a huge financial burden. Many government projects have, understandably, had to be put on hold. Unfortunately, the first projects to be casualties of these difficult financial times have been heritage related, namely the Rosia Bay project and the military museum.
Already in planning and development circles there are rumblings of another potential private development in Rosia Bay.
The restoration of the Mole in private hands can, apparently, only be accomplished by having yet another private housing scheme which will inevitably deface this peaceful, historic, and environmentally important jewel of Gibraltar’s coastline. In fact, no one really knows what the exact state of the Mole and its breakwater are in, and more importantly, what it could cost to repair.
The Trust and the other NGOs are acutely aware that the historic Mole is in an ever increasingly precarious state. Handing this over to a private developer whose whole focus will inevitably be profit, is not the answer. The GHT and the other NGOs, namely ESG and GONHS, have repeatedly made representation to the Government about this.
Rosia Bay, and its environs is a ‘National Treasure’ which must not be devalued by developers. HMGoG, please carefully consider this plea. This must be primarily a HMGoG project. If times are hard financially let us at least mitigate against further damage to the Mole until, either, times are financially better, or alternatively together, we can come up with a less costly and more conservative restoration which keeps the Mole and Bay open for the people of Gibraltar along with heritage and environmental tourist to enjoy for future generations to come.
Keith Farrell is the Chairman of the Gibraltar Heritage Trust.