07/09/2021

A government governs, it does not go on demonstrations

2 min
A plane flying over the Ricarda Lagoon

BarcelonaThe Catalan government's spokeswoman, Patrícia Plaja, has declared that it would not surprise her if some councillors participated in the demonstration called for Sunday 19th against the extension of El Prat airport. This would be paradoxical as the executive's official position is that it is in favour of the extension as long as there are no serious environmental affectations. This is the consensus in the government and this is the agreement reached by the vice-president, Jordi Puigneró, with Aena. It is true that the first document presented by Aena last Friday, the so-called DORA, plans to extend the third runway over the protected area of La Ricarda, and this tipped president Aragonès's position against the extension. But Plaja's words are a hint that doubts around the project are multiplying within the Catalan Government, especially inside ERC. In fact, the deputy spokeswoman of the parliamentary group of ERC, Meritxell Serret, advanced in an interview with ARA her predisposition to participate in the demonstration and assures that all the group shares her opinion.

On the side of the Spanish government, which is the one in charge of airport control company Aena through former socialist MP Maurici Lucena, there is no unitary position either. Next week the second vice president, Yolanda Diaz, and the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, will visit La Ricarda, as a way to demonstrate their opposition to the project. We have, then, Spanish and Catalan governments and even the Barcelona City Council with differences between the partners around the expansion of El Prat, a project of a very high technical complexity and with many derivatives, because it affects not only the protection of a certain natural area but the very model of economic development, and also means a heavy investment.

Even so, the least that can be asked of those in government is seriousness and not allowing themselves to be dragged along by easy slogans. If the Catalan government has agreed that it is in favour of the extension because it wants to secure the investment money (€1.7bn), but without damaging La Ricarda, its job is to press for the master plan to provide a way for the improvements to be made respecting the lagoon and surrounding fields. Because the demonstration on the 19th is not called to defend La Ricarda but against the expansion of the airport's capacity, since the motto of Zeroport platform is "For the degrowth of Barcelona's port and airport ".

We are, therefore, in front of a fundamental debate that has to be faced with maximum technical rigour and in which we have to demand the maximum guarantees from Aena. The first doubt that must be resolved is whether the expansion will ensure that Barcelona will have an airline hub; the second doubt is whether the decisions on the airport system should continue to be centralised in Aena, which favours Barajas, or whether the Catalan institutions should be involved, another of the Generalitat's long-standing demands. Altogether, too many unknowns and a necessary debate that can hardly be answered with a slogan.