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ENVIRONMENT

Gov pledges €10 million to fight climate change

The Spanish government has pledged over €10 million to protect the country’s coastline from climate change, the first of such measures Spain has taken to reduce environmental damage in the country.

Gov pledges €10 million to fight climate change
The Spanish government has pledged over €10 million to protect Spain's beaches from climate change. Photo: Cesar Mano/AFP

The plan was unveiled on Wednesday, March 11th by Spain’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, Isabel García Tejerina.

The Plan to Prepare the Environment for Adaption to Climate Change (PIMA Adapta) is the first set of measures planned by Spain to tackle climate change damage along its coastlines.

Around €12.1 million ($12.8 million) will be spent across 46 projects throughout Spain, the first of which is set to commence in April.

According to García Tejerina, who was quoted in Spanish daily, 20 minutos, the projects will take place in areas where "there are studies that stay we must act now".

"Spain is a country that is very vulnerable to climate change because of being a peninsula," she said, while also assuring that the new climate change strategy would be a long-term project.

The majority of projects under the new plan will take place in Cantabria, Galicia, Asturias and the Basque Country along Spain’s northern coastlines; Catalonia, Valencia and Murcia along the country’s eastern coast; and Andalusia along the southern coast, as well as the Canary and Balearic Islands and Spain’s North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

Projects are set to include the regeneration of beaches damaged by storms, the restoration of sand dunes and the building of constructions to prevent erosion.

Some money will also go into further research into climate change and awareness-raising activities.

Much of Spain was battered by storms in February, while a major cleanup operation is currently underway in the north of the country after the River Ebro burst its banks, flooding areas of Aragon, the Basque Country and Catalonia. 

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ENVIRONMENT

Police operation targets illegal water tapping in Spain

More than 130 people were arrested or placed under investigation for illegal water tapping last year, Spain’s Guardia Civil police said on Wednesday following a huge operation.

Police said most of their operations took place “in fragile and vulnerable areas such as the Doñana natural park”
Police said most of their operations took place “in fragile and vulnerable areas such as the Doñana natural park” in Andalusia. Photo: CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP

During the year-long operation, “133 people were arrested or investigated for extracting water through more than 1,533 illegal infrastructure devices”, the police’s environmental unit said in a statement.

A similar operation in 2019 had targeted 107 people.

Spain is one of the European countries most at risk from the impact of drought caused by global warming, scientists say.

Water usage issues are often at the heart of heated political debates in Spain where intensive agriculture plays an important role in the economy.

Police said most of their operations took place “in fragile and vulnerable areas such as the Doñana natural park” in the southern Andalusia region, one of Europe’s largest wetlands and a Unesco World Heritage bird sanctuary.

They were also operating in “in the basins of Spain’s main rivers”.

In Doñana, police targeted 14 people and 12 companies for the illegal tapping of water for irrigation, a police spokesman said.

Ecologists regularly raise the alarm about the drying up of marshes and lagoons in the area, pointing the finger at nearby plantations, notably growing strawberries, which are irrigated by illegally-dug wells.

“The overexploitation of certain aquifers for many reasons, mainly economic, constitutes a serious threat to our environment,” the Guardia Civil said.

The European Court of Justice rapped Spain over the knuckles in June for its inaction in the face of illegal water extraction in Donana which covers more than 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) and is home to more than 4,000 species, including the critically endangered Iberian lynx.

According to the government’s last official estimate, which dates back to 2006, there were more than half a million illegal wells in use.

But in a 2018 study, Greenpeace estimated there were twice as many, calculating that the quantity of stolen water was equivalent to that used by 118 million people — two-and-a-half times the population of Spain.

Spanish NGO SEO/Birdlife also on Wednesday raised the alarm about the “worrying” state of Spain’s wetlands.

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