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Tourism businesses oppose surge in energy projects in Granada's Lecrín Valley

Tourism businesses oppose surge in energy projects in Granada's Lecrín Valley

Owners and residents have formed a common front against wind turbine and solar energy projects that "invade the beauty" and natural resources of the region

Pilar García-Trevijano

Granada

Wednesday, 9 August 2023, 23:42

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The proliferation of energy projects has raised the hackles of local residents and tourism businesses in the Lecrín Valley in Granada province who do not want to see their landscape changed by more giant wind turbines or vast areas of solar panels. Through the rural tourism association of the Lecrín Valley, chaired by Isaías Padial, affected business owners are raising their voices so that their natural resources are not ruined.

"The Lecrín Valley has a special climate and a large number of water sources that give it a very varied and extensive flora and fauna, with areas of special protection such as the wetlands of the Padul lagoon, part of the Sierra Nevada National Park; Tozal del Cartujo; the peak of El Caballo; Los Alayos; El Suspiro del Moro; El Cerro del Águila; El Pico de Lopera; Las Tres Lindes; La Giralda; El Barranco de Zaza; El Barranco de Luna and Rules reservoir," said Padial.

"There are 18 beautiful villages in the valley with the desire to improve the resources and possibilities that exist in this land, creating jobs and a good quality of life, with tourism being the sector that, for now, has the most possibilities," he added.

"If we let all these industrial installations go ahead and be set up, we will have a totally different valley, without beautiful views, with much less vegetation, with the lack of some protected and unprotected birds, with less water, and with many metal structures in sight. We don't want a grey valley," Padial said.

The tourism business owners are aware of the need for clean, non-polluting means of energy production to maintain the current standard of living, but consider that industrial installations should be located in places that do not have such beautiful scenery.

The association points out that this asset is fundamental for the development of tourism and for maintaining the environmental value of the flora and fauna, including the cadastral value of houses, since without tourism, they would decline and some small villages would be destined to disappear.

The group claims that many of the projects have already been approved by state and regional bodies that have not taken into account "this fragile environmental line that is maintained in the Lecrin Valley and it is easy to break it and turn the valley into dry land".

The local councils "have been deprived" of the ability to grant permits that are considered to be national or regional in scope. The business owners are studying these projects one by one, to see what impact they could have on the region and to see if they are compatible with a better life in the future.

"We do want renewable energies, but in a respectful and orderly manner. We want to decide which [type of] valley we want," said Padial, accompanied by a representation from dozens of affected tourism businesses. The association is trying to formally oppose these projects, but they feel that the administration is ignoring them.

One of those affected by the extension of renewable macro-projects is Señorío de Nevada, a hotel and winery. Antonio Gimeno, its director, said that they have learned that the Andalusian authority is to set up a wind farm and its associated infrastructure (Barranco del Agua) very close to their facilities. Señorío de Nevada was involved in the process as soon as they became aware of the existence of the project and registered objections. The environmental authorisation was at first unfavourable but six days later the project was considered to be favourable, according to documents provided.

The unfavourable report is dated 24 December, although the company received the notification on 4 January. The energy company behind the project presented its modifications in three days, and the speed with which it was declared favourable has shocked the valley protesters.

Their organisation has lodged an appeal, prior to going to court. They have not ruled out also lodging a contentious-administrative appeal if necessary to try to stop a project that they consider to be detrimental to their business and to have a high visual impact, as well as affecting the birds that inhabit the area.

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