Society 09/09/2021

Environmental organisations celebrate the suspension of El Prat airport expansion

Organisers of the demonstration against the expansion maintain the call to protest

2 min
The current boundary of El Prat airport, in Barcelona, with the Ricarda estate on the right of the image.

BarcelonaEnvironmental organisations Depana and SEO/BirdLife welcome the Spanish government's decision to suspend investment in expanding El Prat airport, but call on the Spanish government not to lower its guard "in the face of pressure". In a statement, the two organisations stress that "no political pressure should endanger the conservation of the Llobregat delta" and say that the only option to save the protected area - and not contradict European regulations - is to give up the expansion. "The project would mean an increase in emissions, a disastrous impact on farmland and natural areas in the delta and would give a weight to transport that in no way benefits a change in the environmental and social model," they add.

In the letter, the organisations insist that the expansion of El Prat airport is unsustainable, and that its development would exacerbate an unfavourable situation for the conservation of a protected natural area, the Llobregat delta, which is threatened to the point that Europe has issued a warning. "It goes against the model for development and the future that ought to mark policies in this country," they say. And they add: "This model, in addition to caring for natural resources, must guarantee the conservation of biodiversity to ensure a fair, safe and healthy planet".

Similarly, the environmentalists highlight the social support they have received to prevent the airport reform from going ahead. "Since the agreement for the expansion was announced, opposition has grown exponentially, while the cracks in the agreement have been widening, even within the governments themselves," they state. They consider that the call for the demonstration against the project has caused "an earthquake" among the supporters of enlargement, but insist that it is a delicate moment and "we must not lower our guard, especially because of the possible pressures that may come in the coming days".

Depana and SEO/BirdLife point out that "perhaps it is time to steady the course by starting to compensate adequately for what has been done wrong over the last 25 years in this natural area". "We cannot go against the times and go back to the middle of the 20th century when 21st century European funds are coming to us. It is time to commit to the conservation of biodiversity and to guarantee a good state of health of the natural resources that sustain us, and a healthy nature that allows us to cushion the impact of human activity thanks to the ecosystem services it offers us". In addition, the organisations state that they are keeping a close eye on the development of the Madrid-Barajas airport expansion project.

Demonstrations on September 19

Meanwhile, the organisers of the demonstration against the project, the Ampliacions No collective, have announced that they will keep the call to demonstrate on Sunday 19 September in Tarragona street in Barcelona. They state their demands are still relevant and urgent, regardless of the temporary halt on the project. These include the definitive shelving of the expansion project, closure of all airport already running at a deficit prior to the pandemic and an end to all flights for which an alternative rail connection exists.