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

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.

Fishfarms: considered “compatible” with the environment conservation

 However, wind turbine, hydroelectric and solar energy industries will be vetoed by the Xunta in the coast, as well as open-cast workings and other industrial activities considered “incompatible” with the conservation of these areas.  Galician government deems that there is a difference between these forbidden industries and the promoted aquaculture, and it is “the alteration they cause to the habitat”.

Samuel Juárez, the head of the Environment Department, reiterated that the possible transformation and disturbance on the environment is “the main motivation” of these new regulations.

Juárez explained that there are activities which can be implemented outside the coastal protected areas, but this is not the case of  aquaculture, which has to be located near the sea, and “almost all the Galician coast is protected, for one reason or another”, he said. Juárez stressed that the so-called Red Natura (European ecological network of special areas of conservation) must not necessary be extended along all the coastline, but only in specific areas. “There can be some exceptions which are perfectly compatible”, he concluded.

Fins Eirexas, member of the environmentalist association Adega (and also a member of the Galician Environmental Council), questioned “how aquaculture industries can be compatible if the first thing they do is to destroy the habitat”.

 Aquaculture: labeled as an activity of public interest

 The Xunta reassures that the new meassures does not infringe the European Directive which brought about the ecological network ‘Natura’ 19 years ago. They support their argument in the article 6.4, which holds that a project can be undertaken, despite the negative effects on the environment, if it is “for imperative reasons of overriding public interest”.  A relevancy that the Xunta has given to  aquaculture. In spite of that, the Galician government should adopt compensatory measures.

            When Juárez presented the plan to the Parliament last April, he explained that only traditional and compatible economical activities would be permitted into the Red Natura. He didn’t mentioned anything about fish farms then.

Cabo Vilán (Costa da Morte, Galicia). July 2011, by Catuxa Argibay.

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~ by promisegreen on 26/07/2011.

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