The residents of Cartaojal (Malaga), of some 1,200 inhabitants, denounce their “defencelessness” in the face of the plan to grub up olive trees which began in September and which aims to install photovoltaic parks, “a decision which is harmful to the rural environment, to the economy and to the future of our children“.
The complaint is extended to all the administrations. “The government pays no attention, and the Junta de Andalucía follows the same line and wants nothing to do with the platforms. An attempt was made to have the land rearranged and the projects stopped, but it was recently overturned in the Andalusian Parliament,” said Juan María Cívico, spokesperson for the Cartaojal Platform Without Photovoltaic Parks, in statements to La Gaceta.
Cívico stresses the “disastrous” situation in Andalusia, where “there were several projects paralysed by environmental reports, but the Junta has reactivated all of them. It has forgotten about the environment, the people… and everything,” he says. He denounces the fact that “in order to move forward” they want to “kill the present and the future of many people“. “I don’t see any progress, it is incomprehensible that they are going to destroy Andalusia, a land that is the vegetable garden of Spain, with solar panels,” he adds.
With the four projects underway, 900 hectares of olive trees are going to be uprooted, dismantling the “way of life” of hundreds of Cartojaleños and turning farmland and work “into a real desert“. One of the projects, the largest, is advanced and has already taken 20,000 olive trees, regrets the spokesman of the Platform, while recalling that they are not against renewable energies, but they do regret that with these mega-projects the town will be surrounded and prevented from growing. The parks, he stresses, “are planned just a few metres from the town centre, very close to our homes“.
Neighbourhood associations calling for protection against the conversion of farmland into solar panel fields have proliferated throughout Spain in recent years. In the regions of Jacetania and Alto Gállego (Aragón), in Tierra de Barros (Extremadura), in Zamora… Last year, the Agricultural Association of Young Farmers (ASAJA) demanded, together with the Coordination of Farmers’ Organisations (COAG) and the Union of Small Farmers and Stockbreeders (UPA), the need for specific regulations for the installation of panels “only on land that cannot be used for agricultural production“.
The trade union Solidaridad: “Pulling up olive trees will bring unemployment and rural detachment”
The secretary general of the trade union Solidaridad, Rodrigo Alonso, has stated that uprooting olive trees to put up photovoltaic panels “entails changing an agricultural and traditional production model, which produces attachment to agriculture and roots to rural Spain, for a model in which capital is foreign investment and which does not generate jobs“.
“It is a transition towards unemployment and hopelessness. When we want to reverse it, it will be impossible. This is not about taking out the photovoltaic plants and putting back the olive trees. You need to find the people to cultivate and root them in rural Spain“, he said.
In his opinion, all the environmentalist postulates of the last 50 or 60 years “have fallen by their own prey“. “They were concerned about maintaining the environment, the landscape… but everything has been ruined by authorising, for example, the installation of windmills in the mountains. We have gone from banning grazing to preserve the environment to authorising windmills. So all the environmentalism of the last half century is of no use,” he said.