Cable car, taxis and the chamber of commerce

Dear Sir,

The Gibraltar Taxi Association is surprised by comments made by the Chamber of Commerce in relation to the differed application for a new and larger Cable car. 

The point raised that the taxi association drive diesel vehicles up and down the Rock and that these vehicles cause pollution is not correct. The Gibraltar Taxi Association has one of the most modern fleets in Europe and the majority of their vehicles conform to the latest EU ratings in regards to emissions. The GTA members regularly renew their vehicles for the comfort of their valued customers and this also helps the economy as all vehicles, which in most cases are top of the range are purchased from local car dealers.

What beggars belief is that the chamber should support MH Bland efforts of increasing the capacity of their cable car but totally ignore the fact that this same company has the largest coach fleet in Gibraltar, which consists of vehicles, many of which are over twenty years of age, which would not be allowed to be on the road in many parts of the world.

The chambers remarks that upper rock numbers have been stagnant for the past decade because of transport issues are also false and is just a smoke screen to support one if its powerful members. Numbers are stagnant for a number of reasons such as cruise liners being full of repeat visitors who have already visited the rock on a number of occasions. This is due to the cost of cruising being driven down by larger vessels being able to carry more passengers.

The issue of serious traffic congestion on the upper rock only occurs on a number of days in the year and this is due to three or more liners visiting at the same time, on these days Main Street is also heavily congested but no comments are forthcoming about this.

The GTA is of the belief that a new larger cable car will mainly benefit the owners of this cable car and their sole intention is to increase their profits at the expense of all other operators and the Govt1 as at present they have an unfair advantage as their passengers do not pay to access the Nature Reserve.

Be that as it may, the Chamber of Commerce cannot ignore the rule of law. The central issue for the DPC is the effect that the new cable car project will have on the environment. If there is a significant impact on the environment then, according to the Gibraltar Development Plan, the project should not be allowed. On their own numbers, the cable car will see an increase in traffic from 260,000 a year to 600,000 per year. That is a very substantial number of people who can then enter the Upper Rock Nature Reserve on foot. That inevitably will have a consequential impact on flora and fauna, which needs to be properly assessed.

The potential damage done by walkers is different to the damage that may be caused by cars but it is nonetheless potentially damaging. Ultimately the nature reserve is a resource that needs to be protected and managed with an appropriate balance to be struck between environmental protection and commercial exploitation. These are issues which the DPC is grappling with and it is hugely inelegant for the Chamber to attempt to influence and pressure the DPC into ignoring the rule of law so that it can suit one of its powerful members.

For its part the GTA will allow the DPC to do its job to the best of its ability as we believe it is doing.

The Gibraltar Taxi Assosiation