Los Toranes dam, on the Mijares river, as it passes through Albentosa (Teruel). AEMS-Ríos con Vida Association
Iberdrola will be responsible for the demolition of the Toranes dam, built on the Mijares river as it passes through Albentosa (Teruel), and associated facilities, when the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM) dismissed an appeal filed by the company so that the facilities for the production of electricity revert to the State.
In this way, Iberdrola would have avoided assuming the costs of the works.
The judges consider that "the demolition [by the company] is perfectly justified" because once the exploitation term (75 years from the beginning of the concession in 1943) granted by the State ended in 2018, it is considered that the infrastructure is “unfeasible”.
The sentence corroborates Iberdrola's own lack of interest in the hydroelectric plant, which accepts the end of the concession, and that "obviously does not appreciate its viability".
The judges also warn that they have not acted in an "arbitrary" manner.
“On the contrary”, they add, “it is sufficiently established that its maintenance is not feasible, then the demolition obligation is perfectly contemplated in the aforementioned regulations”.
Iberdrola answers to EL PAÍS that "it is not satisfied with the interpretation that the TSJM has made of the regulations that regulate the public hydraulic domain and, specifically, of the value attributed to the conditions established in the concession title."
Therefore, it will appeal in cassation before the Supreme Court, "following the way of acting of other companies that have already filed an appeal in cassation for this same reason."
The decision to drop the dam sparked a strong controversy between detractors and supporters of the measure, which is still in force.
Among the opponents of his disappearance are the mayors of the surrounding towns such as Olba (the closest, with 226 inhabitants), Albentosa and San Agustín.
The mess reached such an extent that the Government of Aragon tried to declare the facilities of Cultural Interest.
He did not succeed because state competitions were invaded.
The councilor of Olba, Federico Martín (PSOE) complains that he “is playing from a chair with the feelings of a region and some residents of emptied Spain to whom the central government has not listened.
We are still waiting for them to receive us in Madrid”.
Javier Marín, from the Mijares Vivo Association ―in favor of keeping the plant in operation―, warns that another appeal filed by his organization with the aim of stopping the demolition still needs to be resolved.
He does not have much hope that the court ruling will be favorable to them, because "the resolution to end the dam is political," he maintains.
Marín argues that, since the power plant exists, it could be used, given the energy situation and the opposition that the construction of renewable energy plants is causing in Teruel due to their environmental impact.
"It may be that from the economic point of view the dam does not have a great weight, but it does with respect to self-consumption, as a modeler of the landscape, maintenance of biodiversity and to prevent fires," he stresses.
César Rodríguez, from the Ríos con Vida Association, explains that the changes in fluvial dynamics will be observed when the wall of the 17-meter dam disappears, allowing one cubic hectometre to be dammed.
“It is very high and hinders the natural flow of water, sediments, nutrients and organisms such as fish, causing a barrier effect and a great impact in an area that maintains a high natural value”, he clarifies.
When it is pulled, the natural dynamics would be recovered in more than 140 kilometers of river courses in the upper Mijares basin, counting the channels of the Mijares and the Albentosa and Mora rivers.
The platform El Mijares no se toca, of Ecologistas en Acción, in favor of the disappearance of Los Toranes for the environmental benefits it would produce, considers that the court ruling confirms its claims by stating that the dam "exerts significant pressure and it would be necessary to mitigate said pressure, being the elimination of this infrastructure the most effective measure”.
David Hammerstein, a member of the collective, points out that even if other legal resources were filed, this would not stop the demolition of the dam and its electrical installations on the public channel of the Mijares river.
And in the event that the company does not undertake the works, "it is the State that has to proceed with the demolition as a subsidiary execution and then charge Iberdrola."
"The companies cling to a question of concepts when they argue that if the concession has ended, the facilities revert to the State and, since the dam is no longer mine, I will not demolish it," says Pedro Brufau, professor of Administrative Law at the University of Extremadura and expert in water legislation.
But it is a mistaken position, it continues, because "the most recent jurisprudence in conflicts with reservoirs in the Júcar, Alto Tajo or in the Eo river confirms the obligation to demolish on the part of the concessionary company, unless the State considers the possibility of maintaining the infrastructure”, he points out.
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