Expats and Spanish community on the Costa del Sol join bid to block solar plant.
In a bid to “save the valley of Rio Grande” a petition has been launched urging surrounding councils NOT to grant a license for the construction of an industrial photovoltaic plant at the foot of the Sierra de las Nieves National Park.
Titled ‘No to Industrial Photovoltaic Plant in Natural Valley of Rio Grande, Malaga’ the change.org petition has received 3,552 signatures – well on the way to the 5,000 target.
It reads: “The undersigned request the Hon. City Council of Coin and Hon. City Councils of Alozaina, Monda, Guaro, Ojen, Casarabonela, Cartama and Marbella, as well as the Junta de Andaluca: That they DO NOT grant a license for the construction of an industrial photovoltaic plant in the valley of Río Grande, a project that investment companies want to expand to more than 10,000,000 m2 in a space that reveals itself as key to the natural life of the area.”
Organisers Salvemos Río Grande (Save Rio Grande) add: “We ask for protection and respect for the natural environment of Río Grande, an intrinsic part of the Guadalhorce Valley, based on its environmental values.
“The Rio Grande valley, at the foot of the Sierra de las Nieves National Park, is an essential area for a great number of animal and plant species, a passage area for birds from the Strait and an area of connection with nature for the neighbours of the valley and for Malaga in general.”
They argue that the installation of industrial photovoltaic panels on such a large scale will leave the Rio Grande Natural Valley “on the brink of disappearance and extinction”.
“The Rio Grande Natural Valley is today one more sad symbol of a vibrant area of natural beauty threatened by the culture of speculation, whose main purpose is the enrichment of a few to the detriment of many.
“We are going through very difficult times due to personal and socioeconomic losses derived from the coronavirus crisis. It is precisely in these moments when it is vital that we can guarantee the services and the health of people and the environment,” the protestors added.
Thousands of expats and Spanish community have signed the petition urging the councils to refuse a licence application.
Signator Louise wrote: “This is in the wrong place, please don’t destroy this wonderful habitat and all the birds and mammals that depend upon this area.”
“It will destroy the habitat of lots of wildlife,” agreed Day, while Deena added: “Please leave this beautiful space as it is & should be.
Trisha believes money is being put before anything else and commented: “It’s just not necessary it’s only for some people’s greed.”
The main concerns are:
*Cultivated fields and areas of fruit and olive trees that today have no borders will become fenced enclosed industrial eyesores with permanent metal fencing of two meters in height.
*Solar panels altering thermal currents, so that birds will not be able to fly or will fly lower, increasing the number of impacts and triggering mortality in the environment. The shadow of the plates will compromise the future of these shy species linked to agricultural activity.
*Risk of contamination of the subsoil due to the recycling of the use of mineral oils necessary for the operation of the transformers.
*Disappearance of the natural water supply for the resident people of the valley, since according to environmental studies, the consumption for cleaning photovoltaic cells is 20 tons of water per megawatt, taking its supplies from the natural aquifers of the Rio Grande Natural Valley.
*Creation of a vast area of soil erosion due to the removal of yearly farming.
Salvemos Rio Grande members consider that the “construction of these photovoltaic plants does not correspond to the needs of the residents of the towns around the Río Grande Natural Valley to procure green and clean energy, but to the interests of non-resident investment companies and their speculation and financial gain”.
Ecologists in Action Andalucia considers “undeniable the consolidation of de-carbonised energy”, but denounces that the negative effects of industrial-sized solar plants cannot be ignored and fears that the project “will benefit large national and foreign investors and speculators to the detriment of access to clean energy by citizens, thus contradicting the proposals of a just transition”.
n January, it was announced German KfW IPEX-Bank which specialises in financing overseas companies is participating in the construction and operation of the Los Escuderos solar park near Altarejos, Cuenca – one of the largest solar parks in Spain to be constructed in 2021.