Tuesday, May 03, 2005

“Stop Cultural Chernobyl” cry from Anti-Lobby

The public petition organised by the Environmental Safety Group (ESG), GONHS and the Gibraltar Heritage Trust has shown that, by a significant majority, people in Gibraltar are opposed to the proposed Funicular Project, the groups opposing the project have said.

A total of over 7,300 signatures, representing more than 50 percent of the turnout at the last election, have been collected.

“Judging from the tenor of opinions expressed to them during the campaign, the organisers are in no doubt that the overwhelming number of Gibraltarians would find a scheme that would deface and disfigure the face and silhouette of the Rock, the world recognised and noble emblem of our cultural identity, utterly repugnant,” said Joe Desoisa.

The groups claim that “in addition to the obvious threats to Gibraltar’s heritage, unique flora and fauna, and environment, the campaign has focussed attention on issues of safety, traffic congestion and the general disruption to daily life in Gibraltar that would make it a less pleasant place to live in, were this project to go-ahead.”

Comment in the press has been almost universally hostile to the idea and many public organisations have expressed their opposition to the project, they said. “By contrast, no single organisation has convincingly come out in its favour,” said Mr Desoisa.

The groups have accused 21st Century Rock, the company promoting the project, of “misrepresentations of its intentions.” The lobby groups argue that there will be a “truly horrendous impact” from this scheme on Gibraltar.

“It is hoped that at its next meeting, scheduled for the 4th May, the Development and Planning Commission will refuse planning permission for a scheme whose only rationale is the personal enrichment of a small group of entrepreneurs and so avert a disaster which would be little short of a Cultural Chernobyl befalling Gibraltar,” said Mr Desoisa.

“Conscious that, as landlord, the Gibraltar Government has the final say in this matter the organisers are pleased that the Chief Minister has received the results of the Public Petition and is therefore well aware of public sentiment and its aversion towards this project. In the past the Chief Minister has proved himself a doughty champion of Gibraltar’s true interests and it is trusted that he will do so again.”

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