The Government backs down and suspends the expansion of the El Prat airport. This was announced this Wednesday by the Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Raquel Sánchez, who has appeared urgently from Barcelona to detail that Aena will leave out of the Airport Management Document (DORA) the 364 million investment planned for the works that they were to take place over the next five years at the Barcelona air base. The decision has been taken, according to Sánchez, considering that the Government of the Generalitat does not support the Ministry’s plans.
“The pact has been broken due to a manifest loss of confidence, it is impossible to bring a project of this magnitude to fruition without clear and determined support from the Generalitat,” Sánchez assured. “In recent days the Government has changed its position and we have even learned that members of the Generalitat may attend the demonstration against this project,” the minister stressed, referring to the public statements of the ERC spokesperson, Marta Vilalta. “The Government wants Catalonia to once again be an economic engine for Spain, but it is not going to impose this project because the Generalitat does not make it possible,” summarized Sánchez, who has announced, however, that the commitments with the other two remain intact. Catalan airports, Girona and Reus.
The turn taken by the Ministry of Transport comes after five days of friction between the Government and the Generalitat on account of the possible environmental impact of the protected area of La Ricarda, in the vicinity of the track that is expected to be expanded. “Our plan for the natural plan of the Delta complies scrupulously with the Habitats Directive of the European Union, the area now protected is broader by 25%,” Minister Sánchez stressed this Wednesday.
On August 2, the Ministry of Transport and the Generalitat reached an agreement for a total investment of 1.7 billion in the next ten years. This fund was intended for various actions, including the expansion of the airport’s third runway, in addition to expanding terminal 1 and building a new satellite terminal. These works are controversial because lengthening the track closest to the sea on the eastern side would include building on a protected area of the Natura 2000 network, corresponding to the Laguana de la Ricarda area and its surroundings. The Government affirmed that the agreement did not mean that there was an environmental impact and that, in any case, the implementation of the project would be decided during the preparation of the master plan.
After that agreement, signed by the Catalan minister and vice-president Jordi Puigneró, last Friday Aena released its five-year document, in preliminary phase before reaching the Council of Ministers on September 30. In this plan it was detailed that, if carried out, the extension of the runway would affect the protected area, although they were not specified. This recognition generated discomfort in the Government, which demanded that the Government redo the document. “We demand explanations and the rectification of a DORA that damages the protected area of La Ricarda”, reacted sharply, President Pere Aragonès.