Donât think this has been pinged up on ARRSE and was only run in the Mail and Express, but I feel itâs considerably more important than some small ginger chick and her expenses..!! This is what happens when our illustrious leader has one eye on his own back and his other... well he doesnât have that physical ability.... http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1189778/Gibraltar-trick-Spain-grabs-sea-rights-guise-environmental-protection.html http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/104411/Bungle-as-Spain-grabs-Gibraltar-s-waters Gibraltar con trick: Spain grabs back sea rights under guise of 'environmental protection' By Sam Greenhill Last updated at 10:17 AM on 01st June 2009 A diplomatic battle was looming last night after Spain tricked the EU into handing it new rights to the waters around Gibraltar. The sleight-of-hand has provoked fury in the British outpost and left red faces in Whitehall. And it has already produced a potential confrontation between British and Spanish ships in the region. (Repel the invaders: HMS Sabre forced a Spanish warship out of Gibraltar's waters) Spain, which has been challenging British sovereignty on the Rock for 300 years, has now laid claim under an EU 'environmental protection' scheme to most of the 20 square miles of British territorial waters that surround the Gibraltar peninsula . The Rock has been a key strategic outpost since it was ceded by Spain to Britain in perpetuity under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. The sea surrounding the Rock is designated British Gibraltar Territorial Waters. But the Spanish have convinced the European Commission to include most of it in a new environmental zone, to be maintained by Spain. All but one small segment of the British zone - two square miles in the north-western corner - has been swallowed up by the Estrecho Oriental, a 69-square-mile marine conservation area. Under EU law, a conservation site can only be declared by the sovereign state which owns the piece of land or sea in question. So by allowing Spain's request to include the waters around Gibraltar, European bureaucrats have tacitly recognised its possession of British territory. Responsibilities in maintaining EU environmental zones include nature protection and the monitoring of wildlife and potential environmental threats. But there are fears that it will merely act as a cover for Spanish vessels to mount incursions into British waters. There has already been one minor skirmish, when Spain sent the corvette Tarifa 'to inspect fishing boats' east of Gibraltar, insisting it was in Spanish waters. The armed fisheries protection vessel only retreated when the Navy sent the patrol vessel HMS Sabre to intercept it. The Gibraltar government has lodged an application in the European Court in Luxembourg to have the new rights reversed. Chief Minister Peter Caruana said: 'Spain has usurped British sovereignty of Gibraltar waters. This is clearly wrong and unacceptable. Its actions are not an innocent mistake. There is zero basis in international law for its position.' The Foreign Office has also expressed alarm. A spokesman said: 'We do not recognise the validity of their designation.' Britain's Europe Minister Caroline Flint added: 'We share the deep concern this designation has caused in Gibraltar and we continue to assert our sovereignty over BGTW.' Self-governing Gibraltar covers only 2.6 square miles of land, with a population of just 28,000. The vast majority of Gibraltans oppose any return to Spanish sovereignty. In the 1950s the Spanish dictator Franco ratcheted up claims over the Rock, partly in response to a visit of the Queen in 1954 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of its capture. For the next 30 years Spain restricted movement between Gibraltar and Spain. A referendum in 1967 found 12,138 wanted it to remain a British territory with just 44 voting to return to Spanish sovereignty. In 2002 proposals for joint sovereignty were drawn up, but another referendum rejected the plan by 98.97 per cent. Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Gibraltar Group, said: 'This decision must be reversed. 'The Spanish have been trying for 300 years to get a piece of Gibraltar, and unless we do something they will have finally succeeded in chipping away at our sovereignty of the Rock.'