with interest the comments made by the Chief Minister

April 5, 2006 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


WEDNESDAY 5TH APRIL 2006 – for immediate release 

The South District Association notes with interest the comments made by the Chief Minister, on GBC’s Newsnight programme on Monday 3rd April 2006, following the launch party of Nelson’s View, Bay Views and Cumberland Terraces.


The Chief Minister has recognised publicly for the first time that there is a significant “heritage” value to the Rosia Water Tanks.  This is a small but nonetheless important u-turn given that not so long ago, the SDA recalls, he was being quoted by the media as saying these were just some old water tanks that did not merit saving.  Why has he changed his mind now about their heritage value?  Perhaps he has realised that all the information presented to him and the appeals made by international heritage organisations (Europa Nostra, ICOMOS-UK, Naval Dockyards Association and others), three MEPs for Gibraltar, eminent local historians and conservationists, 3000 petitioners, numerous members of the public who wrote in and made comments in the media, Gibraltar Heritage Trust and the SDA had some merit.  Unfortunately it is too late to save the Rosia Water Tanks now.  They are now being demolished and will soon cease to exist, even though that it is not entirely certain that OEM International Limited will be able to get the necessary planning permission and building permits to construct Nelson’s View on that site.


He went on to recognise, as the SDA and the Gibraltar Heritage Trust have said on a number of occasions that he did not realise the extent of their significance.  This is somewhat galling given that the SDA was instrumental in highlighting the historical and heritage value of the Water Tanks and made numerous appeals to him to halt the demolition even after it had commenced.  It was the work that the SDA did that helped the Gibraltar Heritage Trust to re-evaluate its assessment of the “heritage” value of these Tanks.  Subsequently this led them to take action to try to prevent their demolition late last year and early into the New Year.  Unfortunately the Chief Minister refused to listen even to their appeals.


The SDA continues to hold to the view that the Rosia Water Tanks could have been saved and that the construction of these ‘affordable’ homes should have been moved to another site.  It now cannot understand how the Chief Minister arrived at and can continue to defend what he describes as a ‘balanced’ decision.


At the end of the day, the merits of saving the Water Tanks cannot simply be put down to whether or not those fighting to preserve them had selfish motives or were motivated by “heritage” concerns.  As a lawyer it is the facts that count and if he had taken stock of these he would have seen the importance of saving these Water Tanks.


Whilst the Rosia Water Tanks are still partly standing and given that he recognises that these have a “heritage” value he could ask the Heritage Division to undertake a proper architectural, historical or archaeological survey, so that some records of their existence can be held in trust for the people of Gibraltar.




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