Green light for tourism macro project at dried-out Doñana

by Lorraine Williamson
Doñana macro project

HUELVA – Andalucia adds some more fuel to the fire: the government gave the green light for a large tourist macro project in the vicinity of the drought-ravaged Doñana wetland. Moreover, several hotels, 300 luxury homes and a golf course could be built there. 

Earlier, the government of Spain rejected the Andalucian executive’s decision to pass a law to expand irrigation in areas of intensive strawberry cultivation close to Doñana. This was due to the “critical state” of water resources. Now, after accrediting the availability of water and the compatibility of the tourism project with the environment, the regional government wants to approve the Doñana macro project. 

Read also: Conflict over bone-dry wetland Doñana has escalated to Brussels 

The executive bases this decision on the recent reduction in water consumption by the municipality of Trebujena. This, therefore, allows water to be diverted for the project. The project would use 800,000 cubic metres of water per year, most of it for irrigation. However, the company has agreed to use recycled water. Furthermore, other water should come from a nearby reservoir. 

Complex on former floodplains 

The complex has been delayed for years due to administrative and economic obstacles. Furthermore, it would face the National Park on the other side of the Guadalquivir River. These swamps dried up in the 1970s. But, they were made suitable using the construction of a dike to serve as pastures in the municipality of Trebujena (Cádiz). 

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Flood risk 

Leaving aside the debate over water use and the disappearing Doñana, the hotels, villas overlooking Doñana and golf course would be built on floodable land. That forces the Hydrographic Confederation to issue a report ruling out the risk of possible flooding of the river in the next 500 years. According to all sources consulted by El Confidencial, it will be very difficult to obtain those permits in the context of climate change and sea level rise. 

Related post: The last permanent lagoon in Doñana National Park dried up 

No decision yet from Hydrographic Confederation 

The regional Ministry of the Environment has defended the decision to issue the Strategic Environmental Statement – a report that completes the environmental assessment process. This is even though the Hydrographic Confederation of the Guadalquivir, which manages the flood plains in the area and falls under the central government, has not yet ruled on it. 

“We Can’t Wait Forever” 

So far three unsuccessful requests have been made for a statement from the Water Confederation. “We can’t wait forever,” regional environment ministry deputy Oscar Curtido said in statements collected by El Confidencial. 

The plans for the tourism project date back to 2003. At this time, a Belgian promoter pledged to pay €5.5 million to the municipality if it would reclassify the original rustic land and make the ambitious tourism project possible. 

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