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Hunters protest solar farm project in Almargen due to fears it could be harmful to threatened bird species

Hunters protest solar farm project in Almargen due to fears it could be harmful to threatened bird species

The Junta de Andalucía said the project in north of Malaga province has a favourable environmental report with the correct measures in place to protect wildlife

Alba Tenza

Monday, 10 July 2023, 16:30

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Hunters are opposing plans for a solar energy farm in the north of Malaga province over fears it will harm an endangered bird species. The president of the Andalusian hunting federation (FAC), Jose Maria Mancheño, said the development earmarked for Almargen would be "detrimental to a bird in danger of extinction, specifically the little bustard".

"The solar panels are an attack on biodiversity because they generate a significant loss of flora and fauna," he added. FAC also claimed that the development would affect another species, the Montagu's harrier.

But the Junta de Andalucía said the energy project has a favourable environmental report with the correct measures in place "to maintain the habitat of steppe birds and birdlife, so there is no danger to the little bustard".

The species is classified as vulnerable in the Andalusian catalogue of threatened species, whose level of protection was increased in April when it was recognised in as being in danger of extinction.

Threatened wildlife

FAC said that although the environmental report of the project was favourable "the environmental impact analysis has recognised that it will mean a loss of habitat for grassland species, as it is located in an agricultural cereal area of special importance".

Mancheño added that the area where the project will be located also affects them as it is the site of a hunting reserve, where "there are also breeding pairs of this species, as indicated in the report issued by the Junta de Andalucía".

Together with FAC, the Artemisan Foundation, which is dedicated to generating science applied to hunting and the conservation of biodiversity, also protested against the project. Mancheño said the solar farm plant does not provide any benefits, except for the owners of the land where it will be developed.

"The central government has opted for this type of installation just like the wind turbines, the policy that is being implemented in this area of Andalucía does not encourage us to be very optimistic, but we are going to fight to the end," he said.

However, Mancheño said the group was not against renewable energy; "as long as they are planned with control and without putting conservation at risk, as it is a contradiction that the implementation of a solar farm would destroy the populations of vulnerable or endangered birds".

The Junta de Andalucía pointed out that with this project, they will have ways "to even increase the bird population".

Conservation project

The hunters also said that the solar farm would also mean "putting an end to the Almargen application of the Rufa project, a pioneering conservation project for the recovery of the red-legged partridge".

The results of this project had the unprecedented support of all the political parties in the Andalusian Parliament which, on 1 December 2021, unanimously agreed in the Commission for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development to defend hunting and the hunting management of the red partridge through this initiative.

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