Residents slam secretive campaign that will see 75 ‘ineffective’ wind turbines destroy tourist industry and endanger rare birds around Antequera
A CLOAK and dagger plan to install up to 75 wind turbines alongside the Torcal Natural Park is being fought blow by blow by residents.
A campaign has been launched after the group discovered that the “ugly and ineffective” windmills are to go up around the area south of Antequera.
They insist the scheme, named Parque Eolico Los Lentiscares, will destroy the area’s important tourist industry and endanger a number of rare birds, including the Griffon Vulture and Short-Toed Eagle.
They demand the project, which they claim is being undertaken by stealth and with a total disregard for the rights of local people, be scrapped and moved elsewhere.
“This is not about nimbyism,” said Czech resident Bob Hrabal. “We are not against sustainable energy. We genuinely believe this is an ineffective and badly-sited scheme.
“There are lots of eagles and vultures flying around here and many people rely on tourism for their livelihoods. It is not going to benefit the local economy in any way.
“It is not just expatriates, many local Spaniards have put their life savings into running casas rurales to supplement their pensions. Once the windmills go in it is end of story.”
The group that also includes Spanish, English and German residents is now putting posters up all around the area.
They have managed to get Malaga ombudsman Francisco Gutierrez onto the case.
But, after spending six months demanding information on the scheme promoted by Malaga’s Environment Department, they have still not been given exact details.
They were told that they were “not entitled” to see it and would have to apply through the proper legal channels available.
It was only after a third meeting in Malaga, that a surveyor working for the Junta finally gave them a map showing the projected scheme.
“It is absolutely incredible. They refused to tell us who was behind it, how many windmills there were and when it would begin,” continued Bob Hrabal.
“It is a disgrace. This is a public body, with public functionaries paid out of our public taxes. We have a right to know.”
The group claims that of one wind turbine scheme installed in the Sierra Nevada only two out of 40 windmills is currently working properly.
It also insists that the energy put into their construction far outweighs their long term benefit.
Hrabal, a financier, who retired to the area three years ago with his wife, claimed: “This scheme is all about local grants and subsidies from the EU.
“If it was really about the environment, the money would be far better spent putting solar panels on the roofs of all the houses here.”
The Olive Press has discovered that the scheme was first published in the governments’ official information publication BOI in January 2007.
But a year earlier in 2006 an environmental impact assessment report was undertaken by the group called BIOGEA.
Working under the orders of a company called Orni Tour, based in Cadiz, they spent eight months apparently looking into the area’s bird life.
“We spent 650 hours observing the birdlife,” biologist Miguel Angel Farfan told the Olive Press. “Among the birds we saw in the area were vultures, rare falcons and the Short-Toed Eagle. We even saw the occasional Golden Eagle, but the frequency was sadly very low.”
However, the scheme seems to have been passed regardless.
And when it came to getting a copy of the report, Farfan insisted that he was not at liberty to divulge that information.
He did however confirm that the current rules prevented a windmill from being built 3km from the nest of a Short Toed Eagle and 1.5km from a vultures.
One well known naturalist, Peter Jones, who has worked on the protection of birdlife in Andalucia, said it ‘is extremely’ hard to get hold of Impact Assessment Reports. He said “it is often highly dubious that they are conducted properly and they are often aimed to merely rubber stamp a proposed scheme.”
He continued: “They are public documents and should, in theory, be easy to get but it is rarely the case. It makes me very suspicious.”