By Javier Albisu
Amiens, France, Jan 22 (EFE).- Local government plans to regularize 1,460 hectares of illegal strawberry fields around Spain’s Doñana reserve promote illegal activity and the destruction of the natural park, one of the country’s deputy prime ministers, Teresa Ribera, told Efe in an interview Saturday.
“What is happening is outrageous and for me, it is particularly burdensome that it is the Andalusian government (…) that is promoting illegality and the destruction of the Doñana,” Ribera, officially the third deputy PM in the Socialist Party-led Spanish coalition government, said.
The political conflict arose when the conservative Popular Party proposed the regularization law in the Andalusian chamber, where it governs in coalition with the center-right Ciudadanos party and with the support of the far-right Vox.
The plan would regularize nearly 1,500 hectares of irrigable agricultural land around the Doñana, home to important species including the Iberian lynx.
According to the PP, which is ideologically opposed to the Socialist Party-led national government, the proposal would recognize historical farming rights and will not affect the Doñana aquifer, despite the fact the European Union has warned Spain that it was not doing enough to protect the national park.
“It is inadmissible and we will use all the tools at our disposal to ensure this does not happen,” Riberia, who is also the minister for ecological transition, added.
She said the plans not only represented an “environmental problem” but also the acceptance of the “disappearance of one of Spain’s most emblematic ecosystems.”
Spain’s state secretary for the environment, Hugo Morán, discussed the issue in the French city of Amiens on Thursday with the European commissioner for the environment, Virginijus Sinkevičius.
“I think that Spanish society is mature enough to understand that we are not playing and should hold its public officials to account with such sensitive topics like this, which generate populist confusion and are manifestly illegal and impossible,” Ribera added.
Although it is a regional government decision, the Spanish government is charged with responding to international institutions like Unesco, which lists the national park as a heritage site, and the European Commission. EFE