Opposition to the refinery project in Extremadura

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The ecological organisations are against to the refinery project in Extremadura because they consider it obsolete and contrary to the fight against climate change.

Representatives of the five state environment defence organisations- Amigos de la Tierra, Ecologistas en Action, Greenpeace, SEO/BirdLife and WWF/Adena- have declared today in press conference that the Gallardo Group Project is an environmental nonsense and they have asked the involved administrations to dismiss it for the impact it would have on greenhouse gas emissions. The representatives also emphasise the risk of a 300 km pipeline across the Doñana and the Sierra Morena regions.

By now, the project has the support of the Autonomous Government of Extremadura (Junta de Extremadura) and the approval of the Industry Department, but at the moment, the Ministry of Environment is evaluating its environmental impacts. The ecological organisations call for the Ministry to reject the project through the corresponding negative environmental impact declaration and, otherwise, they announce new citizen demonstrations, as well as bringing actions against the project for failure to comply with Spain’s international commitments in terms of environment conservation. They emphasise, among many other things, the lack of a serious study of alternatives. Tomorrow, the Doñana National Park Participation Council will discuss the pipeline project that would cross the environment of this Protected Natural Area, one of the most emblematic ones of our country, to be able to provide the crude to the refinery.

The organisations have underlined that the refinery would also have disastrous consequences for people’s health, mainly by the emission of particles in suspension, and claim to use investments to promote well-planned clean and renewable energies, which also generate jobs and wealth.

But, over all, they underline the incongruity of Extremadura and Spain governments when stating continuously in supposed fighting commitments against the climate change while in reality they are promoting projects as pollutant as this refinery. They remember the fact that Spain has broken the Kyoto Protocol repeatedly and call for a drastic energetic and transport change. The ecological representatives have stated that “a new refinery is not only going to generate more greenhouse gases by itself, but also it is going to produce more fuel for transport, which is the biggest generator of greenhouse gases. Spain should take advantage of the crisis to set out decisively on the road to a carbon low and more petroleum independent economy.” They especially criticise Rodriguez Zapatero’s stand. “If the President wants to promote one region’s employment and industry, with a natural and agricultural wealth such as the Extremadura’s one, there are much better sustainable alternatives than a petroleum refinery.”

Owing to its location to 150 kilometres from the coast, the project needs the construction of a series of pipelines and poliducts from Huelva to Los Santos de Maimona, located in the centre of the Badajoz province. It would be more than 300 kilometres of infrastructures that, together with the refinery, will affect 14 natural areas protected by the European Union, partly to introduce a spillage risk unassumable for at least 65 river beds, and particularly for the Doñana National Park when crossing the Guadiamar River, among others. For this reason, the ecological organisations represented on this protected area board have asked for a resolution of this organ against the pipeline. Besides, the water wire needed for the refinery would take place in a reservoir that is designated Special Protection Area (SPA).

For all those reasons, and for the opposition that has emerged in the own region and in the whole Extremadura against this project, exemplified by the Plataforma Cívica Refinería No, the ecological organisations ask the Government and the Extremaduran Parliament for the withdrawal of the project.

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