"Unsustainable" Spanish water plan attacked

Environmental groups calls on EU not to fund plans for new dams, water transfers

Spanish and European environmental groups have strongly criticised Spain's recently launched national hydrological plan, accusing the government of failing to respect the EU's water framework directive. In a statement released on Friday, Spanish group Ecologists in Action and EU coalition the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), said that the plan would lead to "total destruction" of sensitive areas. They called on the EU not to support the plan's implementation through its cohesion funds.

Spain's plan supports unsustainable trends, environmentalists allege, because it will further encourage overuse of water by farmers through building of over 100 new dams to store water for irrigation and construction of at least one canal to transfer water from wetter northern to dryer southern river basins (ENDS Daily 6 September). EU funds are likely to be sought to support both of these developments, the groups say.

The environmentalists also claim that the plan would lead to specific breaches of the water framework directive. These include failure to take into account the river basin management approach and unjustified exemption for agriculture from a requirement for environmental costs to be internalised in water charges.

In addition, say the groups, the plan will cause further damage to endangered habitats and risk to endangered species, in breach of both the EU's habitats and wild birds directives. The Iberian lynx and the otter are two species that could be particularly hard hit by new dams, the groups say.

Follow Up:
Ecologists in Action, tel: +34 636 84 13 36; EEB, tel +32 2 289 1090.

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