Water pact lets ex-Junta chief off the hook

LAST UPDATED: 27 Jan, 2008 @ 11:40
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Lanjarón water extraction dropped – as are charges against Sánchez

A WATER extraction plan that critics claimed would “threaten” the ecosystem of the Sierra Nevada has been dropped.

Aguas de Lanjarón – which is owned by French multinational food company Danone – had received backing from the regional government to extract 10 litres of water per second from the Lanjarón River.

However, those plans have now been shelved in an apparent agreement with a regional conservation group.

According to claims in newspaper Granada Hoy, members of the Asociación Conservacionista Pescadores del Sur (Acpes) have agreed not to press ahead with an investigation into the former Granada environment delegate for the Junta de Andalucía as long as the water company dropped the proposed extraction.

A court in Granada was considering pressing charges against Gerardo Sánchez after he gave his backing to the plan.

This was despite various studies warning of the negative environmental impact of the extraction, including those from the Guardia Civil and the office of the Sierra Nevada National Park.

Acpes officials also claimed the extraction would accelerate the process of desertification in parts of the nearby mountain ranges of the Sierra Nevada and La Alpujarra.

Aguas de Lanjarón had asked for the water – which amount to 311 million litres of water per year – for “industrial purposes,” which includes the cleaning of glass bottles for their reuse.

This was in accordance to new European Union directives to dissuade bottling plants from using of plastic containers.

Sánchez – who is currently the mayor of Armilla – had maintained his innocence throughout the investigation, claiming he only gave his support to the plan if the mineral water company adhered to strict conditions.

Meanwhile, opponents to a Lecrin Valley mineral water company have written to the President of Spain to raise awareness of their fight.

The group of farmers have also sent José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who has yet to respond, a water jug with the inscription: “Bottling plant no. The water is for the people of the Valley, the farmers.”

The protest centres on company Aguas de Sierra Nevada SL, which is marketing mineral water extracted from the mountains above Dúrcal.

This, the opponents claim, will lead to the area drying up.

A spokesman for the company denied any wrongdoing.

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