NGOs call for immediate Commission action on unsustainable Spanish water plan | WWF

NGOs call for immediate Commission action on unsustainable Spanish water plan

Posted on 17 September 2002
BirdLife International, Greenpeace, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and WWF have today expressed support for their partner organisations in Spain (1) in calling on the Commission to initiate immediate proceedings against the Spanish government for infringement of key EU environmental legislation by the 'Spanish National Hydrological Plan' (SNHP). The NGOs state that the development of water infrastructure projects and transfer works, such as dams and reservoirs, will significantly affect 86 Special Protection Areas under the 'Wild Birds' Directive and 82 Sites of Community Importance under the 'Habitats' Directive (2). The massive water transfers envisaged by the plan run counter to key principles enshrined in the Water Framework Directive. Moreover, one third of the total cost of around 24 billion Euro of the Plan is expected to come from EU taxpayers’ funds. Miguel Naveso from BirdLife International commented: "The Commission has dragged its feet on this unsustainable water law for long enough. Now it is time for some concrete action. The evidence is clear: the plan could wreck up to 126 important areas for the conservation of birds, and seriously affect endangered species such as the Spanish Imperial Eagle". Paloma Agrasot, WWF SNHP Initiative Coordinator, said: “Instead of using the EU funds for nature conservation and climate change mitigation measures, two of the environmental priorities of the EU, the Spanish Government prefers to invest in large-scale water works, in direct contravention of the principles of sustainable development and the Water Framework Directive”. The NGOs believe it is crucial that the Commission initiates proceedings against Spain now, as parts of the plan (e.g. the "Tajo-La-Mancha" and the "Ebro-Barcelona" transfers) are being submitted for funding to the Commission without Spain undertaking any global EIA (Environment Impact Assessment). “Our Spanish members have informed the Commission in detail about the Plan’s infringement of EU law and submitted complaints. We cannot afford to wait years before taking action while irreversible damage is done. The Commission must act now, as the guardian of the Treaty. Billions of Euro must not be granted to a project that should have been outlawed from the outset”, said John Hontelez, from the EEB. The four NGOs have ublished a free leafltet that will be available, and posted on their websites, in order to explain the environmentazl impacts of the SNHP to a wider European audience. The NGO call comes as experts from SEO/BirdLife (BirdLife Partner in Spain), WWF and Ecologistas en Acción (Spanish EEB member) visit Brussels to present evidence on the destructive impact of the SNHP to MEPs and Commission officials at a public hearing in the European Parliament on 18th September (2). Contacts in Brussels - Miguel Naveso, BirdLife International: 0032 (0) 478 47 43 91 - Paloma Agrasot, WWF: 0032 496 957388 - Stefan Scheuer, EEB: 0032 2 289 1090 - Lorenzo Consoli, Greenpeace European Unit: 0032 2 274 19 06 Notes to the editor: (1) A press conference on the SNHP will take place on Tuesday 17th October in Madrid involving the following partner organisations in Spain: SEO/BirdLIfe (BirdLife Partner in Spain) Greenpeace EEB – Ecologistas en Acción WWF – WWF/ADENA . (2) The public hearing “Natura 2000: Protecting Biodiversity in Europe” will take place in room ASP P5B01, in the European Parliament, from 9: 00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday 18 September, hosted by Miguel Mayol MEP.