Friday, January 21, 2005

GSLP/LIBS add their voice to Funicular controversy

Oppostion to project snowballs

GSLP (Gibraltar Social & Labour Party)/Libs (Gibraltar Liberal Party) has said it is against the construction of a funicular from Casemates to Rock Gun.

In a statement to the Chronicle yesterday Liberal Party leader Dr Joseph Garcia said it was clear that “the heritage and environmental considerations at stake far outweigh any perceived benefit to Gibraltar from this project.”

Dr Garcia said:

The Opposition has analysed all the information put into the public domain by the developers and by other interested partes. In addition to this, and at our request, on Tuesday we held a meeting with members of GONHS to discuss this matter. There are important environmental considerations which have been clearly explained to us.

Dr Garcia who is also the Opposition spokesman for Trade and Industry, said that from a heritage point of view, the impact of the project on the Northern defences through the construction of a track and the blasting of a tunnel “give cause for concern, as does the intention to fill a tunnel with the blasted rubble.” He said:

It is possible that this could have a negative effect on Gibraltar’s bid to be considered for World Heritage status. We also note that the Government are now saying that they have an “open mind” on this project. When the funicular development was raised in the House of Assembly at the last question-time in December, Minister Joe Holliday declared that the Government supported the project in principle. The Minister said that the Government awaited the outcome of the Environmental Impact Assessment, and that subject to this “the Government in principle, supports this project as an addition to our tourism infrastructure.

Dr Garcia continued:

We do not agree with the assessment made that this funicular will somehow attract more visitors to Gibraltar. There is no evidence of this whatsoever. Instead it is logical to assume that the visitors who come to Gibraltar and want to go to the top of the Rock by cable car or funicular would be shared out between one and the other. These and other operators would share the same cake. The existing development plan for Gibraltar restricts development in the Upper Rock. The Government said in the House of Assembly that a new plan would be ready by the end of 2004. Given the different comments made by the Minister, there is no doubt that if the new plan were in existence, then everyone would have a better idea of what the policy of the Government now is in relation to proposed developments in the Upper Rock and in different parts of Gibraltar.


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