Bottling plant project near Antequera cancelled after pressure from local mayors

The site is one kilometre from Villanueva del Rosario.
The site is one kilometre from Villanueva del Rosario. / A. Jiménez
  • The project had all the necessary permits from the Junta, but councils in the area feared it would negatively affect their water supplies

There will not, after all, be a new water bottling plant in the Sierra de Camarolos, in Antequera. The company, Inversiones Domago S.L., announced on Wednesday that it is cancelling the 15-million-euro project, which would have created around 100 direct and indirect jobs, despite having been granted all the relevant permits from the Junta de Andalucía. The decision came after pressure from several mayors in the area who joined forces to try to have the project stopped because of fears that the water supply in their municipalities would be negatively affected. The company said this has given the bottling plant an incorrect and damaging reputation.

Domago first embarked on this project in 2009 and in the 11 years since then the regional government, first in the hands of PSOE and then PP and Ciudadanos, has given all the authorisations needed. In fact, in 2016 the environmental report on the potential impact of the plant said that the amount of water that would need to be pumped was much lower than the resources available and there was no reason to believe that supplies would be affected or over-exploited.

No previous opposition

The company also explained that the water to be used by the bottling plant was not the same as that which supplies Villanueva del Rosario and the other villages whose mayors were opposed to the project. In the statement announcing that it would not now go ahead, the company said that during all the years of administrative processes, nobody had opposed or criticised the plans and all the permits and authorisations are in order.

The mayors who have spoken out against the bottling plant are Juan González of Villanueva del Rosario, José María García of Villanueva del Trabuco, José Martín of Colmenar, Juan Jesús Gallardo of Alfarnate, Daniel Benítez of Alfarnatejo and José María García Fernández of Casabermeja. One argument they put forward was that in 2018 the authority responsible for planning and managing public water supplies had said the project was incompatible with the intended use of the water, but the project was reactivated when the government of the Junta de Andalucía changed.

Political differences

There are claims that the disputes over the project are politically motivated. The regional government's delegate in Malaga, Patricia Navarro, has described the mayors' opposition to the bottling plant as a "political operation", and has asked the company to reconsider because cancelling the project would be "very negative for the area". The president of the Malaga provincial authority, Francisco Salado, has also expressed support for the plant.

The mayors say they are "very pleased" the project is not going ahead.