(Agencies) In its annual report on Spain’s coasts, titled ‘Destruction at All Costs’, the environmental pressure group’s Spanish chapter blasts the state of the coastline of the Campo de Gibraltar. The water and beaches of the area are severely threatened and suffering the effects of pollution, urbanization and infrastructure that have a grave environmental impact.>Analysing the situation of the Eastern Straits Site of Community Importance (SCI), which includes the Bay of Algeciras, the waters around Gibraltar, the Eastern side of La Línea and the stretch called The Straits, a protected area that runs from Algeciras to Tarifa, Greenpeace states that these are “under constant threat from heavy maritime traffic and irregularities in the ports such as bunkering.” Bunkering in Gibraltar, says the organization, “are even more risky than conventional methods” given that it is carried out at sea. “This procedure represents an enormous risk of pollution each time a ship is fuelled because they are carried out without proper prevention measures,” continues the report. “The area is in constant danger of accidents at sea because of dozens of ships being anchored on the Eastern side [of the Rock], which are frequently dragged towards other ships or the coast during storms.” The report mentions the ‘Fedra’ accident of October last year as well as the ‘New Flame’ disaster of August 2007, which Greenpeace puts down to a lack of communication between the port authorities of Gibraltar and Algeciras, which it says is “very deficient” despite the fact that some 30,000 vessels moor or anchor in the bay every year.
The report goes on to state that the Bay of Algeciras ranks fourth in the world in terms of bunkering. This is added to pressure from the Cepsa refinery in San Roque and the industry around it. A study of sediment in the bay concludes that it is in a worse situation than that of the coast of Galicia four years after the ‘Prestige’ sinking there.
Destrucción a toda costa (the report’s title in Spanish, playing on the word costa, which means both ‘cost’ and ‘coast’) also goes on to criticise the building that the Straits SCI has suffered in recent times. This stretch of the coastline, designated a Mediterranean Transcontinental Reserve of the Biosphere, runs some 60 km along the Strait Nature Park.
There are plans to expand the port of Tarifa, “an excluded area that would suffer major environmental impact,” it goes on, “and the Park itself as well as its rich underwater life would obviously be negatively affected.”
Tarifa has approved 3,422 new homes and over 12,000 hotel rooms for the next ten years, says the report. Atlanterra, another 720 and Valdevaqueros 669 homes and 6,000 hotel rooms.
And as though this weren’t enough, concludes Greenpeace, the town of Algeciras pours its faecal detritus into the bay, while neither Gibraltar nor Tarifa have sewage treatment plants.