Yael Benady (right) and protesters gathering signatures this week. :: A. BOLTON
A petition to stop a new football stadium being built at Europa Point in Gibraltar has been backed by more than 5,000 people, according to organisers.
For the past week locals have been collecting signatures outside the Plaza on Main Street in a bid to show the move is unpopular with locals.
Government chiefs are proposing that the 8,066 capacity stadium be built on a 23,000 square metre piece of land that used to be a cricket pitch.
But some Gibraltarians unhappy with the plans have decided to organise the petition, which they hope will prevent the stadium from getting the green light at a planning meeting later this month.
Yael Benady, 46, a teacher, who helped organise the petition, told SUR in English: “We feel that the majority do not want it at Europa Point.
“This is the last unspoilt area left in Gibraltar. It has stunning views of Ceuta to La Línea - it’s just beautiful. We don’t have that anywhere else in Gibraltar and this five storey building is going to obstruct that.
“It’s also on the wrong side of Gibraltar as they will have to transport all the fans there. The tunnels often get closed due to the rock falls. It’s ridiculous.
“We are just asking them not to put the stadium at Europa Point. We are a small community and we don’t have space for two football stadiums.”
The protesters plan to present the petition to the Planning Committee next Tuesday (8 April) at 9.30am, when members of the public will be able to raise their objections.
If the stadium gets the go-ahead it’s expected to take 18 months to build, although it is not expected to be ready for the the Euro 2016 qualifiers when Gibraltar take on Germany, Poland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Georgia.
Instead the team will have to travel to Faro in Portugal for their first official European competition.
As part of the ambitious plans for the stadium, two vertical beams of light will be shone on either side of the Strait of Gibraltar.
The structure will have full medical and media facilities, spaces for catering and retail outlets and the GFA offices. It’s hoped the stadium will also be used for major events and bringing big music names to the British overseas territory.