Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Over 500 residents of the Campo de Gibraltar and Gibraltar took to the streets of San Roque on Sunday to march in the defence of the Pinar del Rey. The 200-year-old woodland covering over 360 hectares is under threat from government proposals to run part of the future A-7 dual carriageway through the southern corner of the area’s vital green lung.

The demonstration was staged by Verdemar – Ecologistas en Acción who from the start have led the opposition to the road. For the first time all the political groups at San Roque town hall backed the protest which was strictly non-political so that it could be supported by all.

The environmental impact report (DIA) produced by the Ministry of the Environment has proposed that the motorway would be carried over the southern corner on a viaduct over 300 metres long with just one support point. It would also have acoustic panels and plants surrounding it to lessen its environmental impact.

However both the ecologists and residents want the road to be kept away from the woodland. Verdemar admits the problem is a difficult one but suggests the road should go further to the south so as to avoid the valuable water resources of La Alhaja. Ahead of the protest the Ministry of Public Works promised it would study the situation but whether that was in the hope of stalling the demonstration or is a genuine effort to find a solution only time will tell.

Local activist Ángela Aguilera addressed the crowd declaring it was important that they fought to save the Pinar for their children and future generations. She accepted that some improvements to the infrastructure were necessary but added that they should not be carried out at a cost to the Pinar or by destroying the environment – “This is not progress.”

Now for three views on the Pinar del Rey:

Mary Finlay – British resident:

“As a resident of this beautiful area El Pinar, I commend Angeles the activist for her grip on the situation and can only say that it is a fight we must all support, even if we are not regular visitors. Complacency will only lead to central government riding roughshod over us - again - because this area has been used and abused for decades. This road must not go through the Pinar- even the edge- because it demonstrates their complete indifference to the inhabitants and their right to a natural park, clean air and a place which for so many is the only way of escaping high rise living - imagine the uproar in Madrid should the Dehesa de La Villa be threatened in this way. The natural consequence to this would be more urbanisation along the route, not necessarily residential either- more industrial parks, all crowding and putting more pressure on an environment that is heavy with toxic industries and lacking controls on effluents and emissions and all in the name of employment for the Campo de Gibraltar. How much more does this area have to accommodate?”

Lyana Armstrong-Emery – spokesperson Friends of the Earth, Gibraltar

“As you know there was another demonstration held in San Roque yesterday to which members of Friends of the Earth attended. Pinar del Rey has been enjoyed by Gibraltarian families for many years. It is a place of great beauty and tranquillity in the midst of the ever increasing surrounding industrialised and populated areas. It would be a great shame that in this time of economic recession were more people are finally realising the importance of going back to basics and enjoying what nature has already given us that we now destroy it. Friends of the Earth, Gibraltar are seriously concerned about the erosion of yet another green area. We support other environmental groups as well as the residents from the surrounding area in their campaign to stop the motorway being built through it. There appears to be a constant development programme that lacks respect for our environment and its people and we need to stand firm against it.”
Fabian Picardo – Gibraltar Opposition GSLP MP
“I will not get involved in telling our neighbours what they should or should not do in terms of urban or rural planning; but certainly any steps which deprive families of a natural environment and the area of a ‘green lung’ such as ‘El Pinar are clearly negative and to be resisted.”

So what’s your view?


Richard said...

I agree with Verdemar - any major infrastructure project will cause major problems whereever it cuts through. However one rule should surely be that they don't endanger protected environmental areas like the Pinar. Of course there is another argument that we should seek alternatives to new roads...

Jillian said...

We go to the Pinar frequently especially in spring and autumn for a family day out in the countryside for a picnic. We always see friends from both the Campo and Gibraltar there. This is a precious place that must be preserved our we'll end up spending the day in the refinery carpark.

Andres said...

The Pinar del Rey is precious for all residents of the bay area on both sides of the border.

Anonymous said...

I understand the need for new roads etc - but I do not understand the destruction of the environment and protected areas. There is also a motorway being built in Huelva that will endanger the Lynxes still further.

Jose Antonio said...

The A7 through San Roque is largely congestion free - the problem is between Los Barrios and Algeciras - that's where the action is needed not in the Pinar.