In looking to the future, don’t forget the past


By JOHN CORTES, GSLP/Liberal Candidate

It’s so easy to forget. Eight years ago, we had highly polluting power stations, no sewage treatment plant anywhere on the horizon, no recycling of paper, cardboard or glass, monkeys all over the place, no large green areas in the city centre and some of our wildlife on the point of disappearing. And as far as Climate goes, the Government didn’t even want it mentioned.

When I became a Minister in 2011, after a lifetime fighting for the environment, my biggest challenge was to change hearts and minds in the core of Public Administration and Public Opinion. I needed to make the importance of the environment come to the fore. I think succeeding in this has been my biggest achievement.

In 2019 we have a brand-new power station, cutting pollution from power generation by up to 99% for some pollutants, and reducing carbon output by 44% - a response to the Climate Emergency even before we declared it in Gibraltar.

Air pollution as recorded in our monitoring network has fallen to within EU levels for the first time ever, and we have increased our air monitoring so that we can better guarantee the further improvements that I am determined to achieve.

Of course, we need to work for better and better air quality. We have made huge strides, and we are ready to take this further. We will increase the output of renewables, and we will up the game further with traffic and shipping. We will provide a network for vehicle charging and we will encourage electric cars. We will continue to roll out our sustainable traffic scheme (STTPP), and we will legislate to control smoke from ships, as well as making it obligatory to provide shore power for berthed ships so that they turn off their engines.

Our sewage treatment plant is now designed and preliminary works complete. Recycling figures have rocketed, and we recycle much more than we used to.

Barbary macaques are roaming much less into built-up areas, and the Barbary partridge, is now common once again.

We have planted hundreds of trees throughout Gibraltar, including in Theatre Royal Park and, of course, Commonwealth Park, that gem of a green area in the heart of the city, where our children can now run on lush green grass, and families can stroll in leafy shade. We plan to bring in more green areas - and you know that I will personally make certain that these happen!

We have passed laws to reduce single-use plastic. We have legislated to improve animal welfare, to control fouling by dogs, to regulate the way we use our waters. We have protected biodiversity like no other Government.

Environment is now at the core of Government policy. In matters such as procurement, work practices and, for example use of plastic, the GSLP/Liberal Government leads by example.

Everyone knows how much I love nature and a healthy environment. I am more enthusiastic than ever to continue doing all of this. Because I understand it, I care passionately for it, and because I know what to do and how to do it. I think I have proved this, from my days in GONHS, in the Alameda Gardens, and now as Minister. Like I have always done, working constructively with stakeholders to achieve these vital aims.

You also know that in a GSLP/Liberal Government, I will continue to do so. Gibraltar will be greener, more pleasant, and environmentally safer than ever before.

Vote for the 10 GSLP/Liberal candidates and we’ll do this, and more, for you and your environment.