The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

From Doñana to the Mar Menor and the Canal Roya: eight hot spots for the environment after the electoral overturn


Highlights: Doñana is one of the hot spots for the environment after the elections a week ago. In September, UNESCO's world heritage committee will decide whether to include Doñana in its list of endangered sites. The political turnaround in the Valencian Community, where the PP has been the most voted party, occurs with the northern expansion of the port of Valencia unresolved. The only obstacles to take it forward are the approval of the Government and a resolution of the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid.

The victory of the right in municipalities and autonomies will have an impact on pending issues such as the extensions of Barcelona airport and the port of Valencia, the Canal Roya valley project and urban mobility

Not even two days had passed since the elections when on Tuesday Doñana returned to the political arena. First, hand in hand with the boycott that is being organized in Germany against the red fruits of Huelva due to the illegal use of water, something that is damaging this emblematic park. Then, by the veto of the PP and Vox to Miguel Delibes de Castro, president of the Doñana Participation Council, could participate in Parliament in the debate to regularize irrigation in the environment of the protected space. The popular, after the controversy, rectified on Friday and will allow this scientist to intervene in the regional Chamber. Another thing is what will happen with the proposed law, which continues its processing despite the broad rejection from the scientific world, Unesco and the European Commission.

Doñana is one of the hot spots for the environment after the elections a week ago. In this list there are also controversial actions in existing infrastructures – such as the extensions of Barcelona airport or the port of Valencia – and new projects – such as the union of Formigal and Astún stations, in Huesca – that can now receive an important boost. In addition, the irruption of Vox as a crutch of the PP in autonomous governments and municipalities can have an impact on sustainable mobility and renewables. Or in the law that tries to protect the Mar Menor and that the far-right party has in its sights.

Doñana, again in campaign

Strawberry workers on a farm in Lucena del Puerto, Huelva. PACO PUENTES

The Doñana National Park, one of the most precious European wetlands, enters the electoral focus again. The PP and Vox defend a bill to expand irrigation in the environment of the reserve, a proposal that has the opposition of the European Commission, Unesco, the Government of Spain and the scientific community. The popular froze the express processing until after the municipal elections to avoid unnecessary noise, but they will not be able to circumvent the call for the general elections on July 23. If the plans of the popular group, which has an absolute majority in the Parliament of Andalusia, are fulfilled, the law can be approved on July 26, three days after the elections, or in September, when the new session begins.

The proposal gives water rights to new irrigators (many of them already do it illegally), although it is the Guadalquivir Hydrographic Confederation, under the Ministry of Ecological Transition, which has the legal handle of the tap. This week the PP has threatened to leave out of the hearing process some critical voices, such as the president of the Doñana Participation Council, Miguel Delibes de Castro, although after the enormous controversy the popular argue that they will rectify. In September, UNESCO's world heritage committee will decide whether to include Doñana in its list of endangered sites. From Germany, a visit of parliamentarians has been organized to analyze on the ground the use of water in the Doñana environment. And over Spain flies a complaint from the European Commission before the Court of Justice of the EU that could end in sanction for not adequately protecting this natural space.

The way is cleared to expand the port of Valencia

Aerial view of the Port of Valencia.

The political turnaround in the Valencian Community, where the PP has been the most voted party, occurs with the northern expansion of the port of Valencia unresolved. The dikes that delimit the work were completed in 2011 and now the construction of the future container terminal continues to be sheltered, which will have 137 hectares of surface, 1,970 meters of berthing line and a draft of 20 meters. It will double the capacity of the port area in container traffic.

The work had to be tendered throughout 2023 but the Council of Ministers has not approved the authorization of works valued at 540 million euros for five months so as not to further enlarge the differences between the partners of the autonomous government of the Botanic (PSOE, Compromís and Unides Podem) before 28-M. The Socialists have defended it as long as it was backed by an environmental impact statement, while Compromís and Unides Podem, have rejected it because of its affection to the beaches and the natural park of La Albufera. The latter demanded, at least, a new environmental declaration, more in line with reality than the last and favorable one of 2007, above all, due to the climate emergency situation and the changes of the original project. The PP has always been favorable to the work and with the political change the only obstacles to take it forward are the approval of the Government and a resolution of the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid, urged by a group of neighborhood associations and ecologists, the Ciutat-Port commission, which cautiously suspends an order of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition that allowed the port to decide on its own whether or not a new evaluation was necessary of environmental impact.

Urban mobility changes, in the air

Some operators place the signage of the low emission zone of Barcelona in 2019. ALBERT GARCIA

The victory of the PP in numerous municipalities (in some, together with Vox) leaves in the air some measures to achieve a more sustainable mobility. The main one refers to the low emission zones, which must be established this year in more than 150 localities: the far right is against, while the PP has opposed some of them (as in Castellón and Valladolid). Although they must be created by law, the risk is that they become decaffeinated or very small (as Zaragoza has just done).

Jesús Julio Carnero, PP candidate for Valladolid, has been elected with the promise of reversing bike lanes and bus lanes and returning that space to the car (something Almeida did in his first term in Madrid). To these cities is added Rivas Vaciamadrid, where the party has stopped the LEZ (low emissions zone) and intends to eliminate the new bike lanes. In Valencia, they are committed to reducing the bus lane of the central Colón street. In Palma de Mallorca, the PP has paralyzed the tram planned for this legislature, has demonstrated against some bike lanes and intends to end the limit of 80 kilometers per hour in the urban ring road.

An uncertain impact on renewables

Photovoltaic plant in Talayuela, in the province of Cáceres. PACO PUENTES

The energy policy and the fight against climate change is largely set by the European Commission and the commitments that Spain has acquired by international environmental treaties. This is not to say that decisions at local, regional and national level do not have an influence. The debate over large wind and solar farm projects has been going on in some rural areas for some months. But the opposition movement is so heterogeneous that it is very difficult to generalize also what impacts the changes of government will have on municipalities and autonomous communities.

"The implementation of renewables in Andalusia, with a PP Executive, has not been very different from that of most PSOE communities," says Pedro Fresco, an expert in policies to promote renewables. "Another thing is the influence that the forces more to the right of the PP can have," he adds in reference to Vox. What many experts do agree on is that the great battle over the model of implementation of renewables (and energy) will be fought with the general elections. At stake is whether there is more commitment to energy communities, how self-consumption will be developed, if nuclear is given another chance, if there is greater margin for gas... Matters that are largely in the hands of the central government.

The law of the Mar Menor, in the spotlight of Vox

Dead fish on the shores of the Mar Menor in November 2022. EP

To govern in Murcia, the popular Fernando López Miras, needs the abstention of Vox, which has obtained nine deputies, five more than in the previous legislature. And the extreme right is not going to make it easy when it comes to the Mar Menor. Vox has indicated on different occasions that it will not reach agreements if the PP does not reform or repeal the Law of Recovery and Protection of the Mar Menor, which was approved in July 2020 with the votes of the PP, PSOE and Citizens.

The popular respond to EL PAÍS that they are not willing to change anything of that norm, which includes, for example, the prohibition and restriction of the use of fertilizers and new greenhouses in a strip of 1,500 meters around the lagoon or end illegal irrigation. The Mar Menor has lost its balance and suffers periodic crises due to eutrophication (an excessive supply of inorganic nutrients) that has caused, above all, the fertilizers used by agriculture that seep into the lagoon.

The PP does not renounce the project to unite Formigal and Astún

Canal Roya, where a union of the ski resorts of Astún and Formigal is planned.Eduardo Viñuales

The possible change in Aragon (where the PP can take over the Government with the support of Vox) does not affect the commitment to the snow sector that already appeared on the agenda of the Socialists. And, in particular, to the controversial union of the ski resorts of Formigal and Astún. But this would be done, points out a spokesman for the popular, with the corresponding environmental reports and a broad social consensus.

The project of union of these two alpine resorts of the Huesca Pyrenees, with a cable car that crossed the glacial valley of Canal Roya, was one of the most headaches caused to the Government of the socialist Javier Lamban, who has lost the regional elections a week ago. The action, with a cost of 26.4 million euros and in which European funds were key, triggered a strong social rejection due to its environmental condition. The Provincial Council of Huesca, which promoted this project, renounced this May to the action due to the impossibility of meeting the deadlines, but maintaining the idea that it should be resumed as soon as possible.

More support for the expansion of Barcelona airport

A cyclist passes by the fence of Barcelona's El Prat Airport. Carles Ribas

If he manages to tie up the few loose ends that remain to become the new mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias will have in his hand to abort some of the initiatives launched by his predecessor Ada Colau – he describes it as a "failure" – and promote projects that he considers key for the city. The management of Barcelona El Prat airport escapes municipal competences, but the expansion of the infrastructure has become a flag issue during the campaign.

Aena always said that it was not trivial to be able to count on the support of the consistory for its airport expansion plan. Ada Colau closed the door to support a project that, although it involves an investment of 1,700 million euros and the construction of a new terminal, invades a virgin area of the Llobregat delta, La Ricarda, a space of high ecological value. Trias, like the PSC or the PP, argues that we must find a way to enlarge the airport, in order to raise the capacity of the facility beyond 55 million travelers, a ceiling that was practically brushed before the pandemic. Trias shares Aena's argument, pointing out that it is not only a tool for tourism, but that it has to attract more fairs and congresses, improve the connectivity of the city and its positioning, and that companies can choose Barcelona to locate their headquarters.

The Valdecaballeros dam is not thrown away

Several young people fish in the reservoir that was going to be needed for the Valdecaballeros nuclear power plant, in Badajoz. Samuel Sanchez

The PP of María Guardiola, which would govern Extremadura with the support of Vox, ensures that the Valdecaballeros dam stays. In addition, they will demand the State "to put the needs of the people of Extremadura before exacerbated environmental protectionism, avoiding the destruction of dams and weirs," respond the popular to EL PAÍS. The Ministry for the Ecological Transition decided to demolish the infrastructure after the resignation of Endesa and Iberdrola to the concession, because the dam has never worked due to the nuclear shutdown that left half the plant to which it was associated. The announcement generated a strong neighborhood rejection to which the socialist government joined. Faced with this situation, Minister Teresa Ribera announced that they were backing down, without specifying anything else. It remains to be known, for example, who will be responsible for its maintenance.

The conservation associations defend that the river flows again in a natural ecosystem to which the native species would return and remember that the European Union aims to recover 2030,25 kilometers of rivers in European countries by 000 so that they flow freely.

With information from Manuel Planelles (Madrid), Esther Sánchez (Madrid), Cristina Vázquez (Valencia), Marc Rovira (Barcelona), Miguel Ángel Medina (Madrid), Lourdes Lucio (Seville) and Juan Navarro (Valladolid).

You can follow CLIMA Y MEDIO AMBIENTE on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter

Subscribe to continue reading

Read without limits

Read more

I'm already a subscriber

Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-06-04

You may like

News/Politics 2023-06-30T20:17:56.427Z
News/Politics 2023-04-23T10:43:59.009Z

Trends 24h

News/Politics 2023-09-20T22:15:12.743Z


© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.