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A computer image shows the desalination plant will be located to the north of Torre del Mar, next to the existing sewage treatment plant. SUR
Just who is responsible for the next stage of new Axarquía desalination plant project?
Drought crisis

Just who is responsible for the next stage of new Axarquía desalination plant project?

The Andalusian regional government has set aside the land next to the existing sewage treatment plant in Vélez-Málaga, but the Junta and Spain's central government both think the other is in charge of the next stage of the process

Chus Heredia

Malaga

Wednesday, 24 January 2024, 17:56

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The Junta de Andalucía sent confirmation of the location for the Axarquía’s future desalination plant to Spain’s central government on Monday 22 January. It will be built next to the existing sewage treatment plant to the north of Torre del Mar, near to the A-7 motorway and El Ingenio shopping centre.

Spain's central government considers the desalination plant to be of general interest and has committed 100 million euros to the project. A protocol was signed between the state and Andalusian governments in May 2023, without a project plan or environmental impact report.

Now, the central government’s representative for Malaga province, Javier Salas, demanded on Tuesday 23 January that the Junta de Andalucía provide both studies. However, regional sources have said that the content of the protocol does not state that the project is the responsibility of the regional government. Furthermore, two technical sources who are not connected with either government have pointed out to SUR that it is common for works of general state interest to be processed and drafted by the central government.

Agreement

The agreement stated: "The Andalusian regional government provides all the available documentation to speed up the execution of the works. It also collaborates in making available the land on which the infrastructures covered by this protocol are to be located".

The agreement established a working group made up of representatives from both administrations as well as technical contacts, which has met on a number of occasions. The last meeting took place last week in Madrid between the Secretary of State for the Environment, Hugo Morán, and the Andalusian minister for agriculture, Carmen Crespo.

"At the meeting held on 17 January, the Secretary of State was told that he was going to be sent the documentation with the Axarquía plot, thus fulfilling the commitment made," by the Junta de Andalucía, said sources from the regional government.

However, according to the central government, "the agreement establishes that it is the regional governments who provide the project and land for the new desalination plants".

Fabricated controversy

Speaking to Canal Sur Radio on Wednesday 24 January, Crespo said that the controversy had been "absolutely fabricated" and her comments were reported by Europa Press. She wanted to make it clear that the Junta has been "helping and collaborating" the central government from the very first moment, providing the documentation and ceding the land and that the working group was set up between the two administrations.

"They have to be done by the State," insisted Carmen Crespo, who said that it seemed that the central government "does not like" the fact that the Andalusian government is expected to approve a fourth Drought Decree on Monday 29 January, with a budget of 200 million euros, which, added to the three previous decrees, making a total of 500 million euros.

Crespo also claimed that the Andalusian government has carried out 73 water related projects in recent years that in her view are of general interest to the State and as such should have been carried out by the national government.

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