19 Feb, 2023 @ 12:45
2 mins read

Protestors come out in force in Spanish capital in bid to save trees and play park from Metro expansion plan 

Protest in Madrid Río
Simon Hunter

MORE THAN a thousand people came out to protest in the Spanish capital on Saturday, against a Metro expansion plan that will see the destruction of nearly 300 trees and a popular child’s play area in the Madrid Río park.

The regional government, headed up by Popular Party politician Isabel Díaz Ayuso, had originally planned to add the new station on Line 11 of the Metro system underneath nearby Paseo de Yeserías street. 

But a change that was not made known to the public will now see the stop built in the Madrid Río park itself, requiring the removal of 279 trees and a playground known as the ‘pirate ship’ thanks to its galleon design. 

The work to extend Line 11, which will run from the southwest to the northeast of the city, will require the removal of more than a thousand trees in total. 

‘The environmental impact statement did not include the flattening of the Comillas park nor this station in the middle of the park,’ complained residents at the demonstration on Saturday, in comments reported by online newspaper El Diario

The protestors angrily banged on the red and white fencing that has already been put up around the area, and which has been graffitied with slogans such as ‘No to the tree-cutting’.

‘Let’s be clear, the work that is going to be carried out is not that [made public] in 2019,’ said a spokesperson from environmental group Ecologists in Action. 

Other demonstrators lamented the lack of shade that the removal of the trees will cause, while yet more pointed out that emerging from a Metro station into a park late at night will leave passengers feeling at risk. 

Opposition parties such as leftist Más Madrid and the Socialist Party were represented at the demonstration. 

Img 1018
Drawings from children stuck to the fence at the Madrid Río park where the new Metro station will be constructed. Photo: Simon Hunter.

The local council in Madrid, run by PP Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida, has also been the focus of ire from residents for damage to greenery, with more than 78,616 trees cut down during his time in office. 

According to figures cited in El Diaro from City Hall itself, the city has lost a fifth of its adult trees in just four years.

Council officials told the newspaper that this drastic reduction was partly due to the damage caused by the Filomena snow storm in January 2021. 

Almeida has also been criticised for a remodelling of the central Puerta del Sol square, which critics claim leaves no greenery or shade for the scorching summer months, and the replacement of cobblestoned roads with asphalt, which also will cause the temperatures to rise in the streets.

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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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