People power forces Marbella council to put high-voltage cables underground

High-voltage power cables in the Trapiche Norte area.
High-voltage power cables in the Trapiche Norte area. / Josele-Lanza
  • Councillors vote to remove overhead lines near schools in Trapiche Norte and San Pedro after parent and resident campaign

A dream came true for parents last week when town councillors finally voted to allocate funds to put high-voltage power cables near three Marbella schools underground.

Local people in the Trapiche Norte area of Marbella have been campaigning for 14 years to have cabling hidden. They claim that the magnetic fields generated are a health risk and that the failure to remove them contravenes European rules on high-voltage power lines running through urban areas.

The Trapiche Norte district has a population of 1,600 and two schools, Xarblanca and María Auxiliadora, are also in the area. At Xarblanca there are 1,200 pupils and teachers alone. The offending cables have also prevented a children's park from being completed. In all, 900 metres in this area run overground.

Locals get tough on council

Although agreement was reached in April 2015 with Endesa to put the lines underground, nothing has happened since, forcing parents' and residents' groups to lobby each party on Marbella council directly in order to speed up the initiative.

Francisco Claro, president of the local residents' association in Trapiche Norte commented that: "It doesn't make any sense that this has been stopped because we've been waiting for many years. We are talking about health as the children still have these cables running over their heads."

A lesson in democracy

Councillors voting on the motion to approve funds for the work to be included in this year's budget praised the campaign waged by parents' associations, saying it was "a lesson in democracy".

CSSP-Podemos councillors also demanded that funding was approved as a precondition for giving their approval to the overall 2017 budgets. A representative of the parents' associations was allowed by Podemos to read out the funding motion in the council chamber before voting took place.

In a last minute intervention, Partido Popular councillors secured support for the powerlines running near Al-Andalus school in San Pedro to be included in the same motion.

Of the 26 town councillors, all voted in favour, except two from the Opción Sampedreña party, who abstained, claiming it would be better to move the cables away altogether from the schools.

Although funds will be set aside, the work in both areas is not likely to be finished this year.