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BARCELONA

New Barça Camp Nou project gets go-ahead

A €600 million euro ($827 million) project to renovate Barcelona's Camp Nou stadium has been given the green light by the club's members after a referendum on Saturday.

New Barça Camp Nou project gets go-ahead
Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP

More than 72 percent of the 37,535 votes went in favour of the project, however there was an extremely low turnout of just 31.65 percent of those eligible to vote.

"More than two third of the members have voted yes to the project of a new stadium and I want to thank all the members who have exercised their right to vote," said the club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

"We have proposed this project thinking about the future and the next generation of Barcelona fans."

The result is a victory for Barcelona's embattled board, led by Bartomeu, after a series of scandals that have hit the club over the past few months.

Sandro Rosell was forced to stand down as president in January after facing legal action over the controversial signing of Brazilian star Neymar, which saw the club charged with tax fraud.

And on Wednesday, Barcelona were handed a ban on signing players for two transfer windows by FIFA for breaching rules regarding the signing of players under the age of 18.

However, Bartomeu insisted that his message that the vote was more important to the future of the club than his succession of Rosell as president had been successfully received by the members.

"The project is for the club's future over the next 50 years. This is a club proposal, not one tied to this board. That is what we have said all along and I think the members have understood that."

The plans for the new stadium and surrounding areas include putting a roof on Europe's largest football stadium and increasing its capacity further from 99,000 to 105,000, as well as building a new multi-purpose indoor arena, a new stadium for the Barca B team, office and parking facilities.

Part of the funding for the project will come from selling a title right that will see a commercial sponsor's name added to the Camp Nou.

The club insist that supporters will be able to enjoy a significantly more comfortable matchday experience than is possible in the nearly 60-year-old stadium.

However, they also hope a drastic improvement to their hospitality services will create greater income for the world's second richest club.

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ENVIRONMENT

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?

Around 10,000 people demonstrated against the expansion of the El Prat airport in Barcelona on Sunday.

Why has the expansion of Barcelona airport prompted mass protests?
People march during a demonstration against the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

Several ecological and agricultural organisations, have demanded that the expansion be stopped due to the fact nearby wetlands and farms would have to be destroyed.

The demonstration took place on Calle Tarragona in the Catalan capital between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça dels Països Catalans.

The protests still took place, even though last week, Spain suspended the €1.7 billion airport expansion project, citing differences with the Catalan government, after president Pere Aragonès said he wanted to avoid destroying La Ricarda lagoon, a natural reserve next to the airport. 

Environmentalists decided not to call off the march, in case plans for the airport expansion still went ahead.

READ ALSO: Six things you need to know about Barcelona airport’s €1.7 billion planned expansion

Political representatives from ERC, En Comú Podem and the CUP also attended, as well as the leader of Más País, Íñigo Errejón; the Deputy Mayor for Ecology of the Barcelona City Council, Janet Sanz, and the Mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler.

People from neighbourhoods across the city marched towards Calle Tarragona and could be seen holding placards that read Nature yes, airport no and shouting slogans such as “More courgettes and fewer planes” and “Fighting for the climate, health, and life”. 

One of the largest groups of people were those from El Prat de Llobregat, the municipality which is home to the airport, who were led by tractors. 

People march during a demonstration against the expansion of Barcelona-El Prat airport. Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to protesting against the expansion of the El Prat airport, people were also demonstrating against the Winter Olympic Games in the Pyrenees and extensions to airports in Mallorca and Madrid. 

A representative of Zeroport, Sara Mingorría said “We are here to defend not only La Ricarda, but the entire Delta”. 

The philosopher Marina Garcés also argued that the expansion of the airport would mean “more borders, more mass tourism, more control and more precarious jobs.” 

The leader of the commons in the Catalan parliament, Jéssica Albiach, who also attended the protest, asked the PSOE for “coherence”: “You cannot be passing a law against climate change and, at the same time, defend the interests of Aena [the airport operations company]”, she said. 

She also urged the leader of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, to “definitely say no. 

If the airport expansion in Barcelona goes ahead, environmentalists say that CO2 emissions would rise by a minimum of 33 percent. These levels would surpass the limits set by the Catalan government’s climate targets.

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