Nature groups block projects in Spain

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Encouraged by their recent success in stopping a major wind farm project in a unique wilderness area in north-eastern Spain, conservationists are now setting their sights on more development planned on the other side of the peninsula in Galicia.

The wind farms targeted this time round are currently being built by Ineuropa del Xistral SA, a subsidiary of the Acciona industrial conglomerate and are projected to total 60 MW when finished. The three projects are situated in an area called Sierra Septentrionales in the northern part of Lugo province.

According to Xabier Vazquez Pumarino of the Asociacion para la Defensa Ecoloxica de Galiza (ADEGA), the wind farms will damage the area's unique ecosystem of turf bogs, considered to be crucial to the entire peninsula's ground water reserve network since they hold millions of cubic metres of water. ADEGA says the wind farm sites also contain 24% of Galicia's flora and fauna species and that the development will indisputably damage the ecosystem if they are allowed to go ahead.

The group tried unsuccessfully to halt construction of the wind farms at regional level, but after drawing a blank with the Xunta (the Galician government), it is now threatening to denounce the Ineuropa farms before the European Commission on the grounds they violate the EU's habitat Directive.

Enrique Soria, head of Ineuropa's Projects, says the three wind farms comply with environmental legislation and were subjected to strict environmental impact studies carried out by independent companies before work got under way. Commission sources say any complaints filed by ADEGA with the EU are unlikely to have any impact before the three wind farms -- Alabe-Cadramon, Bustelo I and Alabe-Soan -- come on line early in the new year. They will bring Galicia's total installed wind power capacity to 180 MW from the current 120.65 MW.

Two other conservationist groups have been successful in stopping a wind farm planned for another region. Energias Renovables and Collarda de Energia, the two wind power promoters behind a project which was to have been sited at Santa Orosia-Oturia in Huesca province in the Pyrenees in the Northwest of Spain, have decided to pull out of the scheme following protests by conservationists. They complained the development would endanger local populations of birds of prey. The conservationists had won the support of the provincial authorities in their objections.

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