MADRID – A widely announced ambitious project to connect the ski stations of Astún and Formigal via a cable car has been cancelled. That means the Spanish Pyrenees won’t get one of the largest ski areas in the world.
At the beginning of April, the Spanish government gave the green light to allocate €26 million from European funds to the project. However, a month later, the Provincial Council of Huesca rejected the €26 million application from European Next Generation funds for the construction of the means of transport. It had proved impossible to meet the deadlines set by the European Union (EU).
Not viable within timeframe
The president of the Huesca council, Miguel Gracia, explained in a letter to his counterpart in the government of Aragon, Javier Lambán. The provincial institution cannot implement the project “in time and in the right way”. Therefore, he asks for a redistribution of European funds.
Gracia argues that the cable car project is not feasible within the deadlines set by the EU. He points out that there is no Environmental Impact Assessment, Aragon’s Public Interest Plan has not been initiated – to prioritise it – and the lack of land availability, making the project an impossible task.
The president of the Provincial Council offered Lambán a joint agreement for the government of Aragon to lead the work project. That would have shortened the deadlines. The board of Huesca already sent a letter to the European Union and the board of Aragon last week so that they could forward it to the government of Spain.
It is clear to Gracia that the project can continue without European funds, but he thinks that the debate should be postponed until after the elections when there is a new government.
Gracia regrets giving up the €26.4 million for the union of Astún and Formigal but said it would hurt more if Aragón lost that amount. Therefore, he requested that the amount be redistributed. In addition, he thinks that the regions are ready to present their new projects and that the deadlines will be met.
The Aragonese ski resorts, including Astún and Formigal, welcomed 1.5 million skiers in the 2021/2022 season. Hotels in the Aragonese Pyrenees recorded nearly 240,000 travellers between December and March of those years, with a total of 630,000 overnight stays, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE). Creating one of the largest ski areas in the world in Spain would undoubtedly have been a tourist draw. Unfortunately, the project has not proved feasible.