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Green Light for Gibraltar Coaling Island Reclamation

Chris Gomez

A team of ecologists, environmental scientists and geographers who are based in Frome, Somerset, operating under the name of “Engain” have announced that it assisted the Gibraltar government in obtaining environmental planning consent for the proposed “Victoria Keys” reclamation project in harbour waters.

Gibraltar Coaling Island Reclamation Victoria Keys
Coaling Island land reclamation concept design

According to Bath and Somerset business to business magazine “The Business Exchange”, Engain was appointed by the government of Gibraltar in 2017 to advise on the environmental issues for the project, to inform community decision making and draft an environmental impact assessment study “EIA” for this proposed new reclamation.

Gibraltar Coaling Island Reclamation Victoria Keys
Coaling Island Gibraltar | Chris Gomez, ReachExtra

The article quotes Engain as having carried out extensive environmental scoping, design and assessment for the 60,000 square metre reclamation next to Coaling Island.
The project came before the Development and Planning Commission (DPC) in early July 2021.

Although the application was submitted before the 2019 amendments to the legislation and therefore did not require DPC consent, the Commission is only able to make recommendations.

The Coaling Island reclamation will be using 800,000 cubic metres of rubble from the East side “mountain” (just north of Catalan Bay) which will be transported to the site via barge.

Engain said that they will continue to work with the government to manage compliance with environmental protection laws and sustainability criteria.

The article says that this will “open up” land for development on the East side as well as the new reclamation.

It is still not known when works will begin, but the general view in the Gibraltar construction and property industries is that this is imminent.

Although the project has been met with some opposition from homeowners in the luxury development in the vicinity, the initiative has been welcome, coming as it does, following the challenging economic situation caused by government reactions to the pandemic worldwide.

Gibraltar Coaling Island Reclamation Victoria Keys
Coaling Island Gibraltar | Chris Gomez, ReachExtra

Moreover, real estate agents report an insufficiency of stock to sell or rent.

Mike Nicholls wrote in the “Gibraltar Property Magazine”, which is published by Chestertons:

“Our greatest challenge right now is that we will have insufficient stock to sell or rent. It is great that Gibraltar is close to full right now, but we are literally running out of properties and that is not just hyperbole – that is actual fact”.

“If Gibraltar is going to continue to grow it needs to house the people we are going to attract, whether they are high net worth individuals or employees of new businesses”.

Gibraltar Population Covid
Photo: Stephen Ball

The property department of Gibraltar law firm Charles Gomez & Co have expressed welcome surprise that, even throughout the government-imposed lockdowns and worst times of the pandemic restrictions, the number of transactions that they handled remained almost exactly the same as in 2019 which they say had been a record year following some 6 years in which the graph has always pointed upwards.

“It is too early to say whether this is to do with the fact that we are continuing to attract ever-greater numbers of clients or just sharing in a growing transaction base”, barrister Nicholas Gomez said.

What do you think?