GONHS CONCERNS ABOUT EUROPA POINT LANDSCAPING
The whole process goes against the spirit and letter of both the Government’s own Environment Charter and its Environmental Action and Management Plan.
Over a year ago, GONHS (The Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society) was engaged to make a number of proposals for the future landscaping of the Europa Point area, in view of Government plans to refurbish the site.
Europa Point held a number of important plant species, including protected species, and GONHS welcomed the approach. A full report was prepared and action was taken by the contractors, as part of the project, to transplant sections of the vegetation to the area beside Nun’s Well, to be looked after for future replanting. GONHS felt, and publicly expressed the view, that this was an exemplary way in which to deal with development in an environmentally sensitive area.
The brief, which was completely achievable, was to complement some of the new areas around the carpark with resistant species, mainly native species, and to encourage the use of local species in the remaining area.
The result would have been of conservation value, and green throughout the year if watering was provided.
Things started to go wrong when a large area of plants by Nun’s Well, meant for landscaping, stopped being watered, most of the dying. Similar neglect of another 1000 plants bought in for the purpose resulted in most of them dying also.
At the same time, an area to the east of the road, which was largely covered with the endemic and strictly protected Gibraltar Sea Lavender was covered with rubble, leading to complaints from GONHS.
Despite great patience on the Society’s part, the situation worsened.
An attempt to plant some of the near-dead species failed, and led to a huge investment of probably tens of thousands of pounds to ‘green’ the area with plants, at the height of summer, most of which will be dead following the winter’s strong levanter storms.
In view of the unfortunate loss of the plants originally intended for the area, and as the summer is on its way out, GONHS considers that planting should have waited until the cooler, wetter autumn, when suitable plants would have become available for planting.
The result is that an area that held important and attractive wild species has been lost. In addition, despite the problem of rubble in the area to the east of the road having been pointed out, there has been new dumping of rubble directly on the protected Gibraltar Sea Lavender, one of the species that was to be encouraged in the original plan, and other plants have been dug up and left to die in the same area. This stopped only recently following a threat from GONHS to take out an injunction to stop the works.
Deliberately or otherwise, GONHS feels that it has been misled and that the important environmental issues have not been at the forefront of the Government’s thinking. The whole process goes against the spirit and letter of both the Government’s own Environment Charter and its Environmental Action and Management Plan.
In view of the fact that the actions taken are in clear violation of the Nature Protection Act, GONHS is now considering legal recourse.