Thursday, July 28, 2005

Spain asks for consultation on Environmental Impact

Eastside Development row

The Spanish Government has asked to be consulted on the environmental impact of the Eastside Project.

Spain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores MAE) last month sent a diplomatic note to the UK Foreign Office via the British Embassy in Madrid, an embassy spokeswoman told the Chronicle.

The note sets out Spain’s desire to be consulted on the environmental impact assessment currently being carried out in relation to the Eastside Project. The British Government has yet to send a formal reply to Spain, the embassy spokeswoman added.

Spanish newspaper Europa Sur revealed the development in a front-page article yesterday that quoted a letter sent by Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos to local environmental group Grupo Ecologista Verdemar - Ecologistas en Acción.

According to the newspaper, Sr Moratinos told the group that Spain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry had called on the UK to halt work on the east side of the Rock until the full environmental impact of the proposed development was assessed. The letter added that the ministry shared Verdemar’s concerns that the Eastside Project could have a negative environmental effect on the Spanish side of the border.

According to Europa Sur, the matter was also discussed at the recent tri-partite talks in Albufeira, Portugal.

Earlier this week, the Gibraltar Government said the environmental impact assessment was already under way and that Gibraltar’s laws fully reflected European Union requirements in this context. (See article link below)

“Gibraltar, as always, fully intends to honour and comply with all its EU obligations including those in this case, namely, cross-border notification of environmentally sensitive projects,” the government said in a statement.

It also noted that Spain had failed to inform either the UK or Gibraltar about any of the numerous, and often major, reclamation projects carried out on the Spanish side of the Bay of Gibraltar or on the Mediterranean coast over the past few years.

Related Articles and Links:

UNECE Protocol on SEA

European Union (EU) Directive on SEA (2001/42/EC) - transboundary consultations

26 July 2005 - Government responds to environmental impact assessment demands for Eastside Projects

26 July 2005 - Partido Andalucista voice objections to Eastside Development

27 January 2005 - Reactions in Spain - Juarez calls for environmental study into Eastside Project

26 January 2005 - Eastside Development first step taken for £1 Billion project

Gibraltar Government Press Release - 26 July 2005 - No: 178/2005

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