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The Catalan Ombudsman promotes legal and policy changes to face up contradictions in the Decree on Castor Platform

14/10/2014

(c) Síndic

Rafael Ribó will urge parliamentary groups in Spanish Parliament to submit amends to the law and he will also request the issue be brought before the Spanish Constitutional Court and EU.

The Ombudsman has brought together consumer and neighbour associations, unions and professional associations in order to work on measures to be taken.

He claims that consumers should not bear the economic consequences of the cancellation of the project.

He also demands that all studies and reports on the management and impacts of the project be submitted before compensating the concessionary companies.

As he stated a day after the withdrawal of the Castor project was announced, the Ombudsman is willing to use all means at his disposal to prevent consumers from having to bear the cost of the agreed compensations for the companies that were awarded the concession of the gas storage.

After having analysed the Royal Decree 13/2014, passed by the Spanish Government, the Catalan Ombudsman has brought together consumer associations, neighbour associations, unions, professional associations to explain them the legal and political contradictions and work on the measures to be taken. All these proposals will be sent to all parliamentary groups in the Spanish Parliament. He will also ask the appropriate institutions to study the possibility to initiate legal actions before the Spanish Constitutional Court and the European Union.

The Ombudsman requests that agreements obliging consumers to pay for the compensations be cancelled. He also denounces that companies and public authorities involved have not yet completed the required reports about the matter. Furthermore, he suggests that compensation to the concessionary companies be paralysed until all documentation is finally submitted and responsibilities for the management of the project are determined.

All these amends will be sent to the Spanish Parliament to persuade the representatives to vote against the above-mentioned decree. If the decree is eventually passed, the Ombudsman will struggle to keep this discussion open in the framework of a future bill to be passed on the matter

The other issue regarding the Castor project is the defence of the people concerned in the Terres de l'Ebre region, whom the Ombudsman will meet tomorrow in order to seek a joint strategy to handle this matter.

The Ombudsman initiated two ex-officio actions with regards to the Castor Project. The first one in October 2013, to clarify the causes of the earthquakes in the Ebro delta region and the consequences and danger for the people living there and the environment. Within the framework of this action, the Catalan Ombudsman sent all the evidence and comments on the matter to the Spanish State Ombudsman (the one with competence to look into this issue), the Government of Catalonia and the Ombudsman of the Valencian Community.

The second ex-officio action was initiated in June 2014 and it was aimed to determine whether public authorities had acted properly in the awarding of the concession of the oil exploratory drilling in Tarragona.

The Catalan Ombudsman is also analysing if these exploitations violate the right to a proper environment, set out in the Spanish Constitution, and if they comply with the European legislation about the matter, mainly Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, and Directive 2011/92/EU of the European Parliament and the Council on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment.

Recently, in September 2014 the Platform in Defence of Sénia River lodged more that 500 complaints expressing the rejection of the project and asking the administrations to be held accountable for having awarded this concession, despite the risk and danger stated in the required reports before the concession. Within the framework of this ex-officio action, the Catalan Ombudsman has addressed the European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, the Spanish Ombudsman and the Government of Catalonia. 

 

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