The Aena project for El Prat was always based on lengthening the third track above the natural protected area of La Ricarda and the Generalitat had known this since at least July 8, according to the documents now known. On that date, the airport manager presented a detailed dossier at the technical table before various Government departments and municipalities, in which it already quantified the effects in square meters, drew the plan of the works on the protected area and calculated the surface damage for the different conservation objectives of the natural area.
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This is clear from the latest documentation published by the company dependent on the Ministry of Transport, which this Thursday posted on its website the complete dossier with the different plans that it has been working on. Most of the files are visual presentations and not technical documents. And in particular, one of them, the one entitled “Future development of the Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport”, shows that the representatives of the Government, like those of the town councils of the area, had been able to see in a recreation on a plane that Aena’s project had an unequivocal impact on the surroundings of the La Ricarda lagoon and, also, on the lagoon itself.
“The project to expand runway 07R-25L at Barcelona airport includes an increase in its length of about 500 meters. This supposes a partial affection (45.1 hectares) of the Zone of Special Conservation / Zone of Special Protection for the Birds of the Delta of the Llobregat ”, indicates the text. Therefore, at least since July the Government knew that the Ministry’s proposal was to move the airfield forward half a kilometer, to do so to the east and that the project would involve laying cement on what is now water.
The document that was exhibited on July 8 is also very explicit and goes so far as to put black on white each of the effects on the natural setting that all of its actions would have. For example, Aena estimates that it will occupy more than 45,000 square meters of the lagoon’s land, another 64,700 of spartina maritima grasslands, 82,400 of saline grasslands or up to 78,700 of pine forests. Aena goes further and also refers to the animal species that could see their ecosystem destroyed, among others the fartet, a fish in danger of extinction, or the loggerhead turtle, also on the verge of disappearance, in addition to up to three types of bats and a protected species of mallow.
Sources from the Generalitat confirm to this newspaper that they were indeed aware of this document and that it did not surprise them because it was the proposal that Aena had made since 2019. However, they consider that the agreement reached between the Vice-presidency of the Government and the Ministry of Transport leaves no effect those Aena plans, insofar as it establishes that the design of the expansion must be decided later within the framework of the master plan. A clause that appears in the Airport Management Document (DORA) and that the Ministry also reported in its press release after the verbal agreement of August 2.
For their part, Aena sources assure that at the time they studied other possibilities to expand the airport without the need to invade the natural area, but they discarded all the options, either because they had an unacceptable sound impact on the surrounding populations or because of the impact on other protected areas in the western area of the slopes. For this reason, the Ministry considers that the Government always knew that saying yes to the extension of the third runway required affecting the environmental preservation area. Aena’s proposal was based on compensation for the land in another location.
The technical table where the document was exhibited was made up of Aena, the Generalitat and various municipalities, and was convened by President Pere Aragonès as a continuation of the initial political table. The objective of the space was to address the details of the project and to weave the maximum institutional consensus to translate it into the management document to be approved by the Council of Ministers before September 30. The first meeting of this technical table was attended by, on July 8, senior officials from various departments of the Generalitat, including the Vice-presidency and also from Climate Action. After the first meeting, two more were held and several of the participants confirm that the documentation that Aena has now published was always in the possession of the participants.