PROVINCE OF CORDOBA – On Sunday, May 1, about 600 people marched through the Córdoba region to protest the expropriation of 400 hectares of land for the construction of three photovoltaic solar parks.
The mayors of the affected municipalities, Bujalance and Pedro Abad, took part in the protests. Opposition groups and other local interest groups also had a presence.
“March against Expropriation”
The protest march had the theme “Renewable yes, but not in this way”. Furthermore, it passed the farm ‘El Hierro’ of Cayetano Martinez de Irujo. A manifesto was then read in the village square of Morente and signed by members of other groups present. These included the Savia Foundation and the trade unions UPA and COAG.
Protection of steppe birds and their habitat
The El Hierro Farm is home to a Montagu’s Harrier hacking project, which the Platform for the Protection of Steppe Birds and Their Habitat hopes to use to stop the expropriations. The Montagu’s harrier is classified as a vulnerable species and the hacking project involves placing young in artificial nests where volunteers feed them daily.
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Conflict over farmland
The planned three photovoltaic power plants are adjacent to other installations where an agreement has been made with the landowners. In total, this concerns about 800 hectares in both municipalities, according to the Platform. The conflict arises from the owners’ refusal to sell or rent their farmland to Guadalquivir 1, 2 and 4, of the electricity group Generadora Eléctrica.
Suitable farm for the solar parks project
The suitable farm for the project is El Hierro, owned by Cayetano Martinez de Irujo, Duke of Arjona and Count of Salvatierra. He has opposed the expropriation from the start. The aristocrat grows according to the Ministry’s “strict” recommendations to maintain steppe bird populations. These birds have their habitat in the cultivation areas, especially in drought areas. The emblematic great bustard – the heaviest bird that can fly in Spain – has been seen in the region.
Statement of Public Interest
The solar parks projects are still subject to the Declaration of Public Interest (DUP), which is currently being considered by the Ministry of Industrial Policy, having already received the relevant administrative and environmental approvals. This DUP is needed to trigger the expropriation protocol when the owners refuse to convert their farmland into the planned photovoltaic power plants.
However, the project has faced opposition from more residents, environmentalists and also some politicians. Last weekend’s protests are the most recent example of this resistance.
Solution needed which is good for the environment and local community
A spokesperson for the Platform for the Protection of Steppe Birds and Their Habitat stressed the importance of protecting the natural environment and the animals that live in it. “We need to look for solutions that are good for the environment as well as for local communities,” said the spokesperson.
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