Oil-drilling demonstrations fill Castellon, Palma and Ibiza

PROTESTERS from all over Valencia, the Costa Blanca and the Balearic Islands took to the streets yesterday (Saturday) to publicly condemn plans to drill for oil in the Mediterranean between the two regions.

Around 20,000 people turned out – 3,000 in Palma de Mallorca, 12,000 in Ibiza town and 5,000 in Castellón, north of the Valencia region.

Coaches were thrown on in Dénia, Jávea, Calpe, Benissa and Teulada (Alicante province) and Gandia (Valencia province) to travel to Castellón to join the march.

Town councils, residents, fishermen, business-owners and employees in all areas of the tourism industry, environmental groups and water sports associations and clubs have all stated they are against plans by Cairn Energy to extract oil from below the sea-bed between the Balearics and the Gulf of Valencia.

Even Jávea-born tennis ace David Ferrer has supported his town’s campaign against the fracking.

Representatives of all political parties joined in and the PP vice-mayoress of Castellón city hall, Marta Gallén, said the previous national government, that of then socialist leader José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was the one which paved the way for the fracking plans by passing two Bills of Law allowing it to take place off the coast of the Valencia region, which Castellón’s PP party was against back then, and still is even though the national government has changed to a PP-led cabinet which is continuing to take the move forward.

The Generalitat Valenciana – the PP regional government of Valencia – was not present, but Sra Gallén says it has already formulated the requisite complaint letters to send to the central government so it has ‘done its bit’.

But the president of the regional government of the Balearics, José Ramón Bauzá and his minister for the environment Biel Company joined the march in Ibiza.

Those against the oil extraction say it will be harmful to marine flora and fauna, will pollute the sea and have a knock-on effect on Spain’s Mediterranean beaches, which are vital to tourism, and will ruin the already-struggling fishing industry.

Minister for industry, energy and tourism for the central government, José Manuel Soria, says he ‘respects’ the protesters’ right to demonstrate against the oil-drilling, but that it is going to go ahead anyway.

Oil-drilling? Yes, please
Despite the literally hundreds of thousands of people who are against the oil-drilling, a small resistance movement is beginning to appear in parts of the Valencia region.

In particular expatriates who have lived in North Sea areas of the UK, and residents of any nationality who have visited other parts of the world with offshore oil-drilling such as Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Newfoundland in Canada, and Venezuela, the minority who are in favour of Cairn Energy’s plans say none of these areas has suffered pollution, damage to their beaches or sea water, and both the North Sea and Norway have healthy fishing industries.

Also, they say Spain needs the income and the extra jobs that the fracking would create – plus it would reduce the cost of fuel in the country to the end user if Spain did not need to import 99 per cent of its oil.

Industry minister Soria says the oil-extraction operations will take place between 30 and 60 kilometres off the coasts of the Balearics and Valencia city, therefore affecting neither, and less still parts of the Costa Blanca where town councils fear an end to fishing and tourism.
An Environmental Impact Declaration (DIA) will need to be carried out first in any case, and would be a very exhaustive exercise, Soria assures.

Special thanks to Richard Charter

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