Controversy over the avalanche of wind farms in the green heart of Cantabria

04/05/2021 at 12:03 CEST

Controversy grows over the installation of wind farms in natural areas in Spain. If the controversy over the project of a marine park off the coast of Girona still rages, now the focus is on Cantabria, where there is a real avalanche of 25 projects, some of which are already in an advanced stage of processing.

Mayors of all political colors, parties from Podemos to Vox, environmental groups, tourism entrepreneurs & mldr; complaints come from all sectors and the reasons could not be more varied, although there are also defenders of windmills.

The loss of tourist competitiveness due to the landscape degradation that towers over 90 meters high and damage to the environment are some of the arguments used.

However, the discomfort is greater in this case because the place where the most relevant wind farms are projected turns out to be a true natural treasure: the Pasiegos Valleys. It is a region of exceptional beauty with four declared zones Place of Community Interest (LIC) by the European Union, numerous historical and cultural points of interest and agritourism routes that attract thousands of people every year.

For this reason, a little over two years ago the Parliament of Cantabria solemnly presented the candidacy of the Pasiegos Valleys to become a Biosphere Reserve, precisely because of its rich biodiversity and its cultural and historical attractions. This title, if granted, represents a guarantee of preservation of the biological and cultural diversity of these areas.

Both the PP, as Podemos, Vox, environmentalists and a large part of businessmen are radically against these projects and consider them “incompatible & rdquor; with the Biosphere Reserve.

“It will ruin our tourism brand and the Valles Pasiegos will be a place like another in the world, it will cease to be a unique place,” said a neighbor at a recent assembly to discuss the matter.

Two projects on public display

Two specific projects are Garma Blanca, which would include 13 wind turbines to produce a total power of 51 MW, and Ribota, with twelve installations of the same type and similar power. Both are promoted by the Green Capital Power company and their permits are in the process of being processed at the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.

At this time, groups and parties They are presenting their allegations and the debate intensifies. The president of the Mancomunidad de Municipios de los Valles Pasiegos and mayor of Vega de Pas, Juan Carlos García Diego, has stated that “the fundamental commitment of the localities of the area for their development involves tourism and livestock, and both sectors would be seriously threatened & rdquor; with the construction of Garma Blanca and Ribota.

The spokesperson for the recently created Platform for the Defense of the Pasiegos Valleys, Mar Mayo, is of the same opinion: “This is an energy model that is fair to the territory, because they want to build up to 144 wind turbines in 25 parks and supplying large cities without taking into account the energy needs of the area & rdquor ;.

These infrastructures, says Mayo, can supply more than two million people, so “it would make more sense to install these parks in places with the greatest energy demand & rdquor; and where, in addition, “the hand of man has already had an impact on nature & rdquor ;.

What do the promoter companies say?

The promoter companies, for their part, see it differently. Capital Energy affirms that only with the twelve wind turbines of Ribota it will be able to supply clean energy to more than 56,000 homes and will prevent the emission into the atmosphere of about 54,300 tons of CO2 per year.

In addition, it affirms that this park will allow the creation of 295 jobs during the construction phase and ten in the operation phase. It will also have, he assures, an economic impact on local coffers, in the form of IBI and IAE.

Capital Energy has 17 renewable energy projects in Cantabria, all wind power. They add a power of 690 Mw and their development will involve a global investment of about 650 million euros.

Meanwhile, the president of the regional government, Miguel Ángel Revilla, has been softening his total initial support to the projects (he affirms that they were compatible with the Biosphere Reserve that has been requested) and has now introduced nuances in that endorsement.

“We are not going to turn all of Cantabria into a wind farm & rdquor ;, he pointed out a few days ago, while asking for“ tranquility & rdquor ;.

Although he has admitted that there are “very solid & rdquor; to bet on renewable energies, it warns that “not all those that have been requested will be authorized & rdquor; and, in addition, “there will be areas that are safely preserved due to the landscape impact they cause & rdquor ;.

The debate is served. The struggle between clean energy and respect for the landscape and traditional ways of life is once again evident.

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