Business 24/07/2021

Brussels warns that the impact of El Prat enlargement on the delta needs to be checked

The European Commission warns that the works should not affect the environment "significantly"

2 min
A plane flying over the natural area of the Ricarda.

BarcelonaNew warning from the European Commission in the middle of negotiations for the expansion of El Prat airport. Sources of the community executive have warned in declarations to Efe that the project would not have to "significantly" affect the environment of the Llobregat delta and the ecosystems that belong to the European network Natura 2000. However, more significantly, these voices recall that, before approving the plans to increase El Prat (Aena has put the end of September as a deadline to bring the decision to the Council of Ministers), the Spanish authorities "have to check through a proper assessment" what will be the possible repercussions.

Brussels confirms that the Spanish administration has already contacted them to inform them about the project to extend El Prat and assures that if it goes ahead, it will monitor it. To extend the third runway over the Ricarda pond by 500 metres, Aena will have to comply with the European directive on habitats and birds and guarantee that the fragile balance of this ecosystem is not altered. The airport manager plans to replicate the affected hectares (they make the calculation on 27 hectares) in other parts of the Baix Llobregat, mainly in the area of the Agricultural Park belonging to Viladecans.

Legal route

The European Commission has been almost always present in the debate on the expansion of El Prat in recent months. The detractors of the operation insist that Brussels will block it for non-compliance with environmental criteria and are convinced that the approval would not have a chance. Other industry sources, however, recall that the EU executive could intervene only after a complaint is filed, a fact that would delay a hypothetical stoppage of the works. Aena, on the other hand, is convinced that the Commission will consider this improvement of the airport's capacity to be in the general interest.

The Generalitat is the one who would have to ask Brussels to modify the Natura 2000 network to extend the third runway. The minister of Climate Action, Teresa Jordà, has assured the ARA that they need "rigor and data" beyond the presentation that Aena has sent them. However, she confirms that the government wants to give priority to maintaining investment and to analyse solutions with more leeway.