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Political exchanges over shipyard’s green record

The Gibraltar Government has said it is constantly monitoring Gibdock’s operations in order to minimise their impact on the environment.

This comes after the GSD flagged the public health and environmental issues surrounding activities in the dockyard.

In a statement the party said it has been approached by many concerned residents of the area with the issue.

The GSD therefore called on the Government to press the dockyard into improving its overall environmental practices and in particular, to ensure that vessels undergoing works have the facility to link to an onshore power supply rather than run their diesel engines continuously.

Hitting back, however, the Government insisted that its constant monitoring of the dockyard situation is in “sharp contrast” to the practice of the GSD administration, which built a number of residential estates in close proximity without first doing anything about this activity.

“The situation today, while not yet ideal, is much improved,” No. 6 Convent Place said.

It added that there have been improvements in a number of areas, including screening of painting operations, and less use of on-ship generators in the last six years.

Regular interaction with Gibdock management has resulted in a reduction of complaints received, No. 6 claimed.

“There have been several recent operations which have nevertheless produced more noise than usual, and these have been raised with Gibdock.”

“A ship repair facility close to residential areas will always have the potential of impacting on the neighbourhood, and the Government, which is not yet totally satisfied that all possible measures have been taken, will therefore continue to work with Gibdock to improve practices and reduce nuisance.”

“Government is already very actively pursuing the requirement to supply onshore power to vessels, which will be necessary once the new power station is commissioned, to minimise the use of on-ship generators, to reduce paint overspray and emissions, and to restrict noisy operations to daylight hours.”

Trevor Hammond, GSD spokesman for the Environment had explained that the problem of air pollution and poor air quality is one that affects Gibraltar in general but said this is acutely felt in the vicinity of the dockyard where ships frequently have to run their engines continuously while works are underway because there is no facility for shore supply.

“It is already recognised in most jurisdictions that this is not an acceptable practice due to the public health and environmental issues it raises and these are moving to require the provision of on shore power supply for vessels,” he said.
“The EU has legislation requiring this in the pipeline.”

“We have to move with the times and these practices are no longer acceptable and need to be changed as a matter of urgency.”
“Government must press Gibdock to make the necessary investment in the public interest.”

“While doing so other practices, such as paint spraying in the open and noisy operations throughout the night should be assessed for their effect on both the environment and public health,” Mr Hammond said.

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