MPs row over sewage
The continued sewage discharges from La Linea into Western Beach and Gibraltar’s pumping of raw sewage into the sea around Europa Point prompted fierce exchanges in Parliament yesterday.
The exchanges stemmed from a question tabled by GSD MP Trevor Hammond in which he asked what activity has taken place since 2011 to rectify the situation at Western Beach given its continued poor water quality.
Environment Minister, Dr John Cortes, outlined the measures the government has taken to resolve the issue, including how it has secured the “important development” of the European Commission publically accepting for the first time that the source of the pollution lies in Spain.
Mr Hammond then asked if the Minister would agree with him that “while we continue to pump our own raw sewage into the sea at Europa Point our case for Western Beach and the Spaniards effectively doing the same is severely weakened in anybody’s eyes.”
“No, Mr Speaker,” Dr Cortes replied.
The matter drew the intervention of Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, who accused Mr Hammond of “playing into Spanish hands” with his comment.
But, Mr Hammond replied that it was “utterly inexcusable” that Gibraltar should continue to pump raw sewage into the sea around Europa.
“It is absolutely true that ‘to reason is not treason’, so if somebody gets up and reasons out an argument which it is important for a community to understand, then that is not treachery,” Mr Picardo countered.
But he added that Mr Hammond’s argument was “logically flawed” and “does Gibraltar a massive disservice”.
The Chief Minister explained that sewage coming out of the northern part of Gibraltar has been the case for generations and cannot affect beaches in Spain as it does not affect beaches in Gibraltar.
Mr Hammond rejected the Chief Minister’s attack and flagged the GSLP/Liberal 2011 manifesto, in which the alliance vowed to develop a sewage treatment plant, “the absence of which has allowed La Linea to defend its own sewage landing at Western Beach by saying we also put our sewage into the sea.”
Mr Hammond added that he had therefore deployed precisely the same argument that the government used in their manifesto.
Mr Picardo replied that what his party was saying “was what La Linea had said” whereas Mr Hammond “was making the assertion for himself”.