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The map highlights the distance between the proposed site for the desalination plant and Joaquín Lobato secondary school (instituto). SUR
Residents reject one of two proposed locations for desalination plant on the Costa del Sol
Drought crisis

Residents reject one of two proposed locations for desalination plant on the Costa del Sol

The Ensanche Oeste residents’ association and Joaquín Lobato secondary school in Torre del Mar have opposed plans by Acciona to build the facility on a site near to the mouth of the Vélez river

Eugenio Cabezas

Vélez-Málaga

Monday, 1 January 2024

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As the drought tightens its grip across Malaga province, Andalucía's regional government and Vélez-Málaga town hall are evaluating proposals from two companies to build a desalination plant to help agriculture and domestic water supply on the eastern stretch of the Costa del Sol. The Axarquía area has to date been most affected by the lack of rainfall.

Two companies, Acciona S.A. and Magtel S.L. are bidding for the contract to build the facility. The former has proposed to construct the plant at the mouth of the Vélez river to the west of Torre del Mar and the latter’s proposal would see the plant being built by the town’s existing wastewater treatment plant to the north of the town by the A-7 motorway.

However, the residents living near the area proposed by Acciona S. A. have rejected their proposal during a period of open consultation, saying that it would situate the plant just 50 metres from homes and the Joaquín Lobato secondary school.

"We understand the serious drought problem and the need for water for agriculture, irrigation and water supply. Therefore, the installation of a desalination plant could be an important part of the solution, as long as it provides water at a good price and does not hinder the sustainable tourist development and quality of life of the residents," the residents argued in a letter.

1,300 homes

Joaquín Lobato secondary school, located in the same area, has also submitted a letter. "All the political parties in the region have unanimously demanded that the Junta build a desalination plant, and Vélez-Málaga own hall has already proposed a location on a plot of land near the wastewater treatment plant," they added.

The residents argue that Acciona S.A.'s proposal proposes the construction of the desalination plant next to the school and on the neighbourhood's landscaped pedestrian walkway, "just 50 metres from the Sup.T-12 residential area, a neighbourhood that already has 1,300 homes and is still under development".

"This difference in the location is fundamental, since we are talking about an industrial installation with a high impact (noise, bad smells, carbon dioxide, landscape) wherever it is located. As such, while the Mediterráneo Desalación [Magtel] project locates it in an already industrialised and non-residential area, Acciona locates it next to the neighbourhood and main growth area of Torre del Mar, which could cause serious conflicts", argued the members of the neighbourhood association, which brings together fifteen communities of property owners in the area.

Case law

The neighbourhood association pointed out that they have found case law "which nullifies the location of desalination plants near the town". They have cited a sentence given by a court in Palma de Mallorca, which ordered the closure of a desalination plant near the town of Calviá, as the planned site was just 100 m from a populated area. "This would be the case of the desalination plant proposed by Acciona S.A." the residents argue.

For the Asociación Vecinos Ensanche Oeste Torre del Mar, "beyond the direct economic cost of the installation, it is very important to appreciate that Torre del Mar is growing westwards in high quality urban developments. The location proposed by Acciona would bring serious damage to both developers and individuals who have invested in property in this area," argue the residents' organisation.

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