If the environmental situation in Gibraltar is worrying el Peñón authorities seem unaware and remain in the same working line. Now they have decided to build a new combined cycle power plant in an extension of 8500 meters of backfill material in the northern dock, near the controversial concrete blocks.
The Government of Gibraltar must solve two major boundless problems: the lack of space and the lack of energy. Therefore a new power plant is being planned and works are ongoing for the award of the design, manufacture and construction of a natural gas power plant whose projected location is, in principle, an area reclaimed from the sea near the dock north. Let us not forget that Gibraltar is precisely framed in an area of special environmental protection through the Royal Decree declaring it a Special Area of Conservation (ZEC for its acronym in Spanish) and Site of Community Importance (LIC for its acronym in Spanish )” Eastern Strait “ with habitats of great ecological value and a first-rate strategic migratory path for species of cetaceans and seabirds.
Nevertheless, the construction process continues, as last May 31 was the deadline for companies to show their interest in the work and August 1 was the deadline to submit bids. The Gibraltar Government did not provide data on the companies interested, but did confirm that it had completed the bidding process and that the project is currently pending award.
Gas Power Plant
As reported by Fabian Picardo Executive at the time, the power plant will operate on natural gas, will have a capacity of 80 MW and include generating units capable of providing a guaranteed net thermal output of 42 MW and an output range of 7-15 MW each. The remaining units are intended to be dual combustion equipment in anticipating any event obliging the plant to run on diesel.
The plant, in principle, will be located on reclaimed land in the northern dock, in an area near the concrete blocks dumped to the bay a few months ago. The plant will be located on a terrain composed of backfill material over an extension of 8,500 square meters.
According to the government, this power plant project is aligned with the Government’s election commitments to investigate all alternative energy sources and to eliminate noise pollution and emissions impacting several residential areas of Gibraltar. However, the plant will be located next to a fishing ground that is already invalidated for fishing gear although used by fishermen of Algeciras and La Linea. Also close will be the new developments designed to provide San Felipe dock with a cruise terminal, another marina in addition to the existing one and a beach in the oriental La Linea.
The controversial concrete blocks
Deputy Jose Ignacio Landaluce has suggested that the real reason behind the release of the concrete blocks as an artificial reef, despite their dumping under the “environmental excuse” is actually another, the target is to fix electricity problems that Gibraltar has faced for some time now. In fact, blackouts are common. With the new plant, the government of the colony expects to secure the energy needs of its inhabitants for the coming decades. This is the alternative proposed by the Government after the 150 million euros diesel project proposed by the previous administration to solve the colony’s electrical problems was disregarded. Thus, the new project is expected to be cheaper and more efficient.