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British residents in south west Spain fight to stop large solar panel park they say will damage environment

The i 09/06/2021 Graham Keeley
a large long train on a steel track: Britons say plans for a huge solar panel park like this one in Cadiz will damage the enivronment (Photo: Graham Keeley) © Provided by The i Britons say plans for a huge solar panel park like this one in Cadiz will damage the enivronment (Photo: Graham Keeley)

British residents in Spain’s picturesque south west are fighting against a huge proposed solar panel park that they claim will harm the environment, drain water resources and damage a protected sanctuary for migrating birds.

The solar park is expected to cover an area of 1,300 sq hectares near the traditional “white villages” of Jimena de la Frontera, Gaucin, Casares and Tesorillo in Andalusia.

There are already large solar energy parks in nearby Cadiz and Seville, and Spain’s left-wing government is promoting renewable energy to cut emissions. But the panels require cleaning to be efficient, using valuable water, and the campaingers are worried about uncontrolled expansion.  

a view of a body of water: British campaigners in Spain’s southwest are fighting plans for a giant solar park ten times as large as this one in nearby Seville, which is 270 hectares (Photo: Debbie Eade) © Provided by The i British campaigners in Spain’s southwest are fighting plans for a giant solar park ten times as large as this one in nearby Seville, which is 270 hectares (Photo: Debbie Eade)

Caroline Gullick, 58, a British resident of the pretty, whitewashed village of Jimena de la Frontera, told i: “This is the route of migratory birds like Egyptian vultures, swallows, martins and eagles and it could be harmed by this development.

“We are not against solar energy but feel that there should have been more of an impact study.”

a sign on the side of a building: The solar park is expected to cover an area of 1,300 square hectares near the traditional ‘white villages’ of Jimena de la Frontera, Gaucin, Casares and Tesorillo in Andalusia (Photo: Debbie Eade) © Provided by The i The solar park is expected to cover an area of 1,300 square hectares near the traditional ‘white villages’ of Jimena de la Frontera, Gaucin, Casares and Tesorillo in Andalusia (Photo: Debbie Eade)

Ecologists in Action and a local pressure group SOS Campiña Jimena claim that Fran Gomez, the mayor of Jimena de la Frontera, said last year that the deal was passed and could not be reversed.

Mr Goméz recently asked the Spanish government to minimise the environmental impact of the plan.

Total Energies, a French company behind the proposal, did not answer requests for comment.

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