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"The order to close the quarry is not a political, but technical and legal decision" (13/11/2017)

The mayor of Santomera, Inma Sanchez Roca, and the councilman of Urbanism, Joaquín Rubio Gomariz, have appeared this morning at a press conference to detail the situation of the quarry of Arimesa.

In this regard, both have explained that there are two open administrative procedures: one, based on the order of closure issued in January 2015 by the Superior Court of Justice of Murcia;

the other, on the granting of an urban compatibility certificate that allows the processing of a new activity license.

The company Áridos del Mediterráneo SA develops a quarry activity in the area of ​​El Zacacho, in the municipality of Santomera, with a municipal license (from 1974, the City of Murcia, because the municipality of Santomera had not yet been segregated). for the activity of "crushing and classification of aggregates", but not for the activity of quarry ("extraction").

This statement is not made by this City Council, but by the Contentious Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court of Murcia in its judgment 373/2008, of 30 April.

In short, Arimesa SA has been doing an activity for 43 years without a municipal license.

Following the aforementioned ruling, the City Council of Santomera, then ruling by the Popular Party, adopted on July 24, 2009 a Local Government Board agreement in which, based on the absence of a municipal license for the activity, it decreed the closure of the the same.

This agreement was appealed by the commercial Arimesa, appeal that was dismissed by the judgment of November 4, 2013 of the Court of Contentious Administrative n ° 4 of Murcia, later confirmed by the Chamber of Contentious Administrative of the Supreme Court of Murcia in its judgment 25/2015, of January 29.

From this last sentence it is worth highlighting the following:

"There is no doubt that the complainant's attitude in maintaining an unauthorized activity and not requesting an opening license when he was granted authorization in 2008 to exploit the resources of Section C, makes the sanctioning resolution fully in line with the law. the cessation of the activity is agreed "

(...)

"the plaintiff needed to obtain a new license of municipal activity with application of the legislation in force at the time of making the request, obtaining in its case the mandatory environmental impact assessment."

And, he added, textually, the following order: "Final and total closure of the facilities and machinery located in the Zacacho site and the suspension of any type of industrial mining activity or any other existing order in it until it is obtained the corresponding activity license ".

As this is a final judgment, without recourse, the Municipal Plenary approved to begin the procedure for compliance in November 2015, with the unanimous favorable vote of all parties represented in the Corporation (PP, PSOE, Alternative for Santomera and Citizens).

Once this procedure was in place, several meetings were held with the representatives of the company and its workers to try to reach agreements that would cushion or minimize compliance with the ruling, concerned about the future of the affected workers and their families.

On the other hand, the company is in the process of obtaining the urban compatibility certificate that allows them to obtain a new activity license and legalize exploitation.

The City Council issued that card last year, but warning of various irregularities, translated into caution, referring to the lack of mandatory environmental assessments that should be carried out by the Autonomous Community in certain sectors of the operation.

The General Directorate of Housing and Territory Planning, however, has sent a requirement obliging the City Council to issue this card without any reservations.

In response to this, the government team commissioned a report to the municipal legal services to indicate the steps to follow;

both this report, already completed, and the requirement of the Autonomous Community have been transferred to the municipal architect to adopt the measures he considers necessary based on his technical judgment.

"It is not therefore a question of politics, but technical and legal," said the mayor.

"We accompany workers in their concerns, we do not want anyone to suffer, but our obligation is to comply with current legislation, we are subject to the rule of law, we are convinced that we are proceeding in the right way, advised at all times by technical services. Municipalities, and the company has the possibility of resorting to forced execution of closure if it considers that it does not comply with the law ", added Inma Sánchez Roca.

"Contrary to what has often been argued, we have no special interest in the quarry closing, but we must ensure that it develops its activity in a legal manner and with all the environmental and urban planning procedures established by current legislation", has insisted on his part the councilman of Urbanism.

"We are limiting ourselves to follow all the steps requested in the most guaranteeive way possible, and proof of this is that they are about to be fulfilled three years from the sentence that ordered the closure and the exploitation continues its activity".

Source: Ayuntamiento de Santomera

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