13 Feb, 2023 @ 17:15
1 min read

Regional government in Spain’s Andalusia rejects request from more than 70 municipalities to halt renewable energy plants

Solar Park In Teruel

THE REGIONAL government in Andalusia has rejected a joint request from a total of 72 municipalities for a moratorium to be put in place on renewables projects until an energy-transition plan can be put in place. 

Mayors from these towns and villages argue that renewables plants are destroying thousands of hectares of land, replacing olive trees that had stood for hundreds of years, among other damage caused. 

The towns and villages in question – most from the hilly areas of Cadiz, Malaga and Granada – were calling for the installation of mega-projects to be frozen, for new installations to be halted until a pan-regional plan was put in place, and for a public participation process to be established to help decide on the location of solar plants and wind farms in the region. 

According to figures cited in Spanish media, investor demand in renewable energy projects has spiked and there are currently 1,200 planned projects underway with an installed capacity in excess of 25 gigawatts of power. 

‘Think about what you are doing,’ the mayor of Coria del Rio in Seville, Modesto Gonzalez, said to the regional parliament last Wednesday before the vote went against the municipalities. ‘We are only asking for planning for the mega-plants. What you do now will be irreversible.’

Gonzalez argued that there was a need to establish exclusion areas for the parks, based on biodiversity, the beauty of the views, the social consequences for inhabitants, and areas with a high cultural or agricultural value, according to Spanish daily El Pais

The mayor also claimed that energy giant Iberdrola has been piling pressure on the regional government, something that resulted in a guide to areas where renewables should not be located disappearing from the administration’s website.

‘They are using space in the rural world to provide energy to urban conurbations and it’s even worse than that,’ he said. ‘They are going to rob us of our very wind and sun.’

The initiative was voted down by the conservative Popular Party (PP), which governs in Andalusia, but found the support of the Socialists and Por Andalucia, among others, while far-right Vox abstained.

‘Extortion’

Spokespersons for leftist parties such as Por Andalucia said that investment funds were using ‘extortion’ in order to install solar farms in the region’s towns and villages. 

‘There needs to be orderly planning, if not the courts will step in,’ said party spokesperson Inma Nieto.

With the vote having gone against them, the municipalities and affected residents are now back at square one.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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