Village that lost 20,000 olive trees to make solar panels

About 20,000 olive trees, some of them centuries old, were cut down to make room for photovoltaic panels. The comprehensive energy transition program initiated by Andalusia is causing fierce controversy: A wave of new solar power plants is (and will continue to do) deteriorating the small village of Cartaojal, a district of the city of Antequera, in the province’s largest municipality, Malaga, Spain. Here, work has begun on four projects that envision the installation of photovoltaic panels over 500 hectares that will occupy the land where thousands of olive trees have been planted for years. An operation objected to by a group of citizens concerned about its impact on employment and the environment.

Juan María Cívico, a member of the citizens’ platform that opposes the project, said: “This land is olive groves, cultivated by local people. Is there no barren land to put the panels on?” he asks. The largest of the four photovoltaic parks is Guadacano, which plans to cover 145 hectares in three areas with a generation capacity exceeding 50 MW. Three other areas that have been greenlit by the Andalusian government are Archo I (157 hectares), Archo II (106 hectares) and La Herrera (124 hectares). The civic platform that opposes these projects claims that it is not against the development of renewable energies per se, but against the fact that “everything is built on top of our heads” without any compensation from the population.

“About 20,000 olive trees have been removed. It’s a 60-day effort for teams of six or seven to just uproot the trees. Not taking into account the impact of related activities, trucks, loggers,” Cívico told ElDiario.es. According to the activist, the loss of these olive trees will ultimately cost 500 fewer jobs in agriculture. And then there are environmental concerns linked to the impact of panel boards on temperatures and water supplies during the summer season, when temperatures in the area can exceed 40 degrees. By ensuring that the panels are hidden by hills and do not radiate heat, the project owners barely deplete an irrigated hectare of land. In addition, the systems will provide advantages to landowners who see renting photovoltaic systems as a more profitable and safe business than olive harvesting.

The mayor of Andalusia, Manuel Jesus Barón, residents opposed to the project staged demonstrations and demanded the intervention of the mayor of Antequera. The 93 mayors of the entire Andalusian community (mostly from Malaga) do not agree, which is powerless in the face of the desertification of their region and went to the regional Parliament to stop and regulate the “explosion”. Photovoltaic system destroying thousands of hectares in Andalusia. But even these protests were in vain: the new centre-right Andalusian government wants to continue the energy transition.

Source: Today IT

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