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Ecologists in Action: "ARIMESA can not be licensed until it evaluates its condition on the Natura 2000 Network" (30/07/2018)

Ecologistas en Acción considers it impossible to grant a municipal license to the ARIMESA quarry without a prior evaluation of the repercussions of the activity in the nearby Natura 2000 sites.

Which, to this day, remains unfulfilled, inexplicably.

The reluctance of the company to carry out the environmental assessment can only be explained by an effort to avoid any limitation to their growth expectations at the expense of the valuable surrounding natural environment.

The quarry of aggregates, located in the area of ​​Puerto del Zacacho, in the Sierra de Santomera, is owned by the company Áridos del Mediterréano, SA (ARIMESA), and is located in the vicinity of two protected areas of the Natura 2000 network : the Site of Community Importance (SCI) and the Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) of the Sierra de Orihuela.

The environmental organization considers that the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia deliberately excluded the Murcia part of the Sierra de Orihuela, when it sent to Brussels the proposals for SCI and SPA in the early 2000s. And it did so despite the fact that part of Murcia has the same botanical and faunal values, and even higher, than the part of Alicante, which was declared SCI and SPA by the neighboring community.

For its part, in an opinion article published in February this year, the company that wants to exploit the mountain from one end to another, crossing it from part to part, declared that his file "has been examined by the environmental bodies of the Community Valenciana, without having found significant affection for the Sierra "[1].

However, Ecologists in Action has had access to several administrative documents that show that neither of the two Autonomous Communities, nor the Region of Mucia, nor the Generalitat Valenciana, have submitted the mining project of Arimesa to an assessment of conditions on the Network Natura 2000, so the statements of the representative of the company, Mr. José García Balibrea, and at the same time of the workers (as in the old vertical unions), are not at all true.

The environmental organization warns that the assessment of conditions on the Natura 2000 Network of plans and projects that may affect them, as is undoubtedly the case of the Zacacho quarry, is an inexcusable legal obligation established in the European Habitats Directive and in the State Law of Natural Heritage and Biodiversity.

And remember that the Order of the Ministry of Development of August 7, 2008 conditioned the approval to the quarry, but subordinated to that it should be justified "that there is no negative environmental and landscape impact".

In fact, after the complaint of this environmental association to the Environmental Prosecutor, the then Director Bernabé prudently recognized that it should be the Santomera City Council that ratified the validity of the decisions of the Director, "with the corresponding sectoral and environmental authorizations of the administrations with concurrent competences, and even with the incorporation of the rectifications considered appropriate "[2].

The documentation that Ecologists in Action has had access to reveals that the ARIMESA mining project lacks the Impact Assessment on the Natura 2000 Network, an essential requirement for it to be approved.

In fact, although the two Autonomous Communities consider it necessary to carry out the evaluation of repercussions on the Natura 2000 Network, each of them considers that this evaluation should be carried out by the other Autonomous Community, so neither of them has done so until now. .

Ecologistas en Acción highlights, also, the work of the Environment technicians of the Community of Murcia regarding the need for an environmental assessment of the modification of the General Municipal Plan of Ordination of Santomera.

Indeed, on April 18, 2016, the technicians of the General Directorate of Quality and Environmental Assessment, responding to a query from the City of Santomera, reported that "The report of the Subdirectorate General of the Natural Environment of March 16, 2015 that is included in the Order of June 2, 2015 of the Hon.

Mr. Counselor of Development (....) Was limited to the analysis and evaluation of the study "Habitats and Flora of Community Interest.

Concession Mining the Zacacho ", (....), And it was emitted exclusively to value the last study presented / displayed by the mercantile one in relation to the possible effects on the natural habitats and the protected flora derived from the operation of the South front of the quarry" The Zacacho. "

(...) It is necessary to bear in mind, therefore, that the report of the Subdirectorate of the Natural Environment was of a sectoral nature on some very specific aspects, although of great importance to mark the balanced progress of exploitation, determining what would be acceptable from the point of view of conservation of the habitats and the species of protected flora, but not from all the aspects of natural environment that might be necessary to consider ", among them logically the evaluation of affections on the Natura 2000 Network.

Also by letter of November 29, 2016, the aforementioned technicians determined that "the reports that would allow a complete and adequate assessment on the environmental impact of the activity would be their own or comparable to an environmental assessment procedure", environmental evaluation to which they refuse in the Ministry of Development.

Therefore, in March Ecologists in Action addressed the authorities of the Community and the City Council asking them to refrain from modifying the General Plan of Santomera ignoring the report of the competent environmental agency that demands an environmental assessment, as well as the organ report competent in the field of the Natura 2000 Network.

Meanwhile, the attitude of the company continues to be that of trying to avoid the evaluation of repercussions on the Natura 2000 Network, for which it does not hesitate to attack any group or administration that opposes its interests.

However, justice is ratifying sentence after sentence the thesis of this organization.

The last one, the sentence that dismissed ARIMESA's complaint against the Mayor of Santomera, the Town Planning Councilor and the municipal architect, for alleged prevarication [3], which Ecologists in Action considers positive, since the City Council for the first time in many years is following the path of legality that neither the Autonomous Community nor previous local governments wanted to travel.

Source: Ecologistas en Acción

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