GALICIA’S GOVERNMENT WILL ALLOW INDUSTRIES IN AREAS OF HIGHEST ECOLOGICAL PROTECTION

•26/07/2011 • Leave a Comment

The natural areas with most ecological value in Galicia, according to the Xunta’s classification, will be able to be occupied by concrete ponds and other “compatible” industrial activities. Thus, the regional government opens a door to the location of aquaculture industries in the protected coastal areas, wrecking years of ecologist fight.

Nonetheless, the previous government had vetoed industrial installations in protected spaces. One of the vetoed projects was the fish farm which Pescanova wanted to build in Cabo Touriñán, with the support of the Partido Popular (conservative party that governs now). The veto was taken by the previous Xunta as a symbol of its environmentalist commitment, but the PP (Partido Popular) wants to take up the project now. The Costa da Morte, one of the most precious and beautiful nature areas in Galicia, is now in danger of being occupied by these plants along its coastline.

Cabo Touriñán (Costa da Morte, Galicia)

The present Xunta, leaded by Alberto Núñez Feijóo, made its first movement some weeks ago, declaring fish farms of “primordial public interest” for Galicia,  speeding up the process of future aquaculture industries. Now, the Xunta paves the way for locating these industries in areas with most environmental value, since the projects will only have to pass the environmental evaluation which depends on the government itself.

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PONTEVEDRA’S CELLULOSE INDUSTRY: 50 YEARS OF ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION

•08/06/2011 • Leave a Comment

People who live in Pontevedra, a typical seaside town in the northwest of Spain, are already used to the unpleasant smell produced by the cellulose industry (Ence) which is located in its coast. Nevertheless, this is a lesser evil caused by the factory. Despite the unwearying protests of citizens, it has been degrading the environment for almost 50 years. Several reports have been warning us about the negative effects caused by its effluent and toxic gasses’ emissions. It has a damaging effect on the neighbours’ health, and also on the conservation of the sea. Therefore, it is also providing detrimental to the shellfish gathering and tourism.

Its history dates back to 1958, when the coastal territory of Lourizán was covered and occupied by the factories Ence and Elnosa. Spain was in the depth of Francois period. Neighbours and fishermen protested intensely since the first moment, being harshly repressed. On August 11th 1965, with 300 claims against, and even though it was admitted during the plenary session that the factory was “nuisance and harmful”, the mayor Filgueira Valverde approved the license concession.

The wood pulp production began in 1964, at the same time that a long trajectory of irregularities, failures to comply with the law and aggressions to the environment. The concession itself in an area of public domain forced the company to take “every necessary precaution to avoid the unpleasant smell, fumes, toxic gasses or any other nuisance circumstance to the population”. Specifically it stated that the failure to comply with any of the conditions would cause the expiry of the concession.

The cellulose industry broke systematically the clauses throughout its 50 years of life. The answer of the factory to the protests came in shape of false promises and campaigns to improve its image through the press, visible in many highlights throughout the next decades.

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Spanish TV join the anti-bullfighting

•02/06/2011 • 2 Comments

State television considers bullfighting “violence against animals”

Spanish state television vetoed bullfighting at the beginning of the year. At first, RTVE (Radio Televisión Española) justified its refusal to broadcast these kind of festivities because of its low ratings. Then, RTVE put forward the excuse of budget problems associated with the high price of the royalties. Finally, it argued that bullfighting spectacles are shown during times when minors may be watching television.

With the elimination of the corridas in schedule listing, public television turns its back on bullfighting, much like the Catalan Parliament did last summer, when it ban bullfighting in the regional territory.

The RTVE Style Book files bullfighting under ‘violence against animals’, and specifies that the public channel will not “broadcast bullfighting because its schedule use to coincide with protected programming scheduled for children”. The children’s schedule begins at 6 a.m. and last until 22 p.m.

In the document, the state corporation explains that children could be distressed by the violence exerted against animals, so they must be prevented from watching it.

However, RTVE assures that it is aware of the importance of the art of bullfighting and its other socio-cultural aspects, and will undertake a project to reflect its topicality through the programming. To achieve this objective RTVE will coverage the “artistic, literary, environmental and social aspects related to bullfighting”.

The conservative Popular Party (PP) argues that there is a political reason behind this decision. Last month, the PP presented a proposal in the Parliament that would promote bullfighting. It was rejected by a difference of only one vote. In the Senate, the PP has tried unsuccessfully to declare corridas a ‘Bien de Interés Cultural’ (Heritage of Cultural Value). The clearest evidence of the partisan political opinions associated with this issue is the paradox that seven autonomous regions of Spain invest part of their public budget in TV and radio programs of bullfighting and similar festivities.

Political thrusts

The Catalan Parliament dealt the death blow to bullfighting in the region last July, outlawing the centuries-old spectacle. The measure signified a victory for the anti-bullfighting movement. It was the result of a popular initiative, launched by an association called ‘Prou!’, and finally approved in the parliament with 68 votes in favour, 55 against and 9 abstaining.

Public and deputies congratulate each other after the anti-bullfighting law passing

Celebration in the Catalonian Parliament after the passing

Bullfight festivities have been banned in the Canary Islands since 1991, and the Basque Country Parliament had recently accepted a proposal made by Ezker Batua party to ban bullfights in that region, too.

Activists against devotees of the centuries-old national symbol support the anti-bullfighting movement. They argue bullfights involve gratuitous animal suffering that has no place in a modern society. “We understand it’s a tradition but now it’s time to rethink such a bloody act of cruelty”, stated Silvia Barquero, spokesperson for PACMA, the small anti-bullfighting party. “There are some traditions that can’t remain frozen in time as society changes”, said Josep Rull, Member of Parliament for CIU, a Catalonian nationalist party.

ANTIBULLFIGHTING PROTEST

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Concrete coastline

•01/06/2011 • Leave a Comment

A Greenpeace report reveals that Spain destroys 7,7 hectares of its coastline every day

The situation on the Spanish coastline, which is analysed by Greenpeace every year, continues to worsen. Greenpeace’s new report ‘Destrucción a toda costa 2010’ (Destruction at All Coast 2010) reveals that an area equivalent to eight football pitches has been devastated every day, over the last 20 years. A total of 7,7 hectares of coastline was damaged to create housing developments or business and industrial areas.

The massive construction along the coastline seems unstoppable, and has spread to some of the last best-preserved areas of the Spanish coast: Murcia, Almería, Huelva, Galicia and Cantabria. Although the first report published by the organization in 2001 had painted a bleak picture, the reality has defied all predictions. Today, more than 75% of seaside land in Málaga and Alicante is built up or can be built on.

Greenpeace’s new campaign compares how parts of the Spanish coastline looked in the 50’s to how they look today. Greenpeace warns that, despite the recession, there seems to be no end to the destruction in sight. Urban planning, far-removed from sustainability, boosts a multitude of new infrastructures that fail to acknowledge the devastating environmental impact caused to sea life and the problem of polluted coastal waters.

The biggest threats to Spanish coasts are building developments, indiscriminate and aggressive with the countryside. The report explains how local coastal authorities have put all their efforts into converting the highest percentage possible of their territories into building developments. The Autonomous Regions (Comunidades Autónomas) responsible for approving municipal development plans rarely reject the unsustainable proposals that they receive.

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