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Barcelona's expansion of its airport is seen as a major contradiction by environmentalists and other opponents. Photo: Getty Images.
Barcelona's expansion of its airport is seen as a major contradiction by environmentalists and other opponents. Photo: Getty Images.

Barcelona protests against the expansion of its airport

The project was halted a few days ago due to no agreement existing between the Catalan and Spanish governments, and protests have filled the streets of the city

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Thousands of people demonstrated this week in Barcelona against the expansion of the city's airport. The call was held under the slogan: "In the fight for the climate, health and life." The project was halted a few days ago due to a lack of agreement between the Catalan and Spanish governments, and protests happened en masse.

The investment required to expand the Barcelona airport would be 1,700 million euros (almost $2 billion). Business associations and airlines were in favor of the work, while environmental groups, different public powers and political parties were against it.

The reason? Expanding the Barcelona airport has a great environmental impact on the Llobregat Delta, one of the main rivers in Catalonia. Although the Catalan government reached an agreement with the Spanish government last August, the consequences on the delta have made it think twice.

With the cancellation of the agreement, the airport loses the extension of one of its runways to become a hub for international flights, the construction of a new terminal and two high-speed train stations at the two other Catalan airports. The airlines considered the decision "disappointing" because they believe it is necessary to expand the airport to decongest it.

The works involve destroying protected areas, an initiative that seems to go against a sign of the times and one the European Union would hardly approve. Airlines responded disappointed that the airport cannot grow anymore. The mayor of Barcelona, ​​Ada Colau, believes it is “a model from the past” and seems incongruous to commit to the fight against climate change and expand a polluting infrastructure at the same time.

Environmentalists see the great contradiction in the project. Barcelona declared a climate emergency situation before the pandemic and its temperatures increase every year. The public company that manages the airport promised to compensate for the environmental damage with the construction of 280 hectares that would serve to restore and improve habitats in the area.

But for those who want to defend the Llobregat ecosystem, the damage would be "irreparable." Under the river, there is an aquifer system that supplies water to Barcelona and it would also be at risk of contamination if the airport is expanded. At the moment, it seems that the battle is won by environmentalists.

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