Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Trans-Border environmental Bill passed

A bill that will allow for transboundary consultation when a development is thought to have significant environmental effects on a neighbouring country, was passed unanimously in the House of Assembly yesterday.

Minister for the Environment Fabian Vinet said that The Environmental Bill 2005 that gives effect to an EU Directive, will include procedures for consultation relating to plans or programmes prepared in Gibraltar “that are likely to have significant effects on the environment in other Member States and vice-versa.”

Mr Vinet explained that the bill sets out the requirement for environmental assessment of plans which set the framework for future development consent of projects. The Minister said the legislation will create “an element of certainty and avoid applications being rejected only after a lengthy process and after expenditure which could have been avoided if it was clear from the outset that that particular project application would fail.”

He added that the bill will have the cumulative effect of delineating no go areas from an environmental perspective.

In reply, Opposition spokesman for the Environment Fabian Picardo welcomed the bill and the right to consultation the Government will have if a project is going to have negative effects for Gibraltar. He said that had this existed before “we would have been consulted about a refinery being built in the centre of our bay.”

However Mr Picardo added that this bill although including an element of consultation did not go far enough in ensuring that it was public opinion that lead the debate on planning issue.

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