The new Barcelona airport may be operational in 2030. This is foreseen by the Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Raquel Sánchez, who points out that the expansion project will be “very demanding” with respect to the natural environment. The minister understands that the work must reconcile “economic growth” with sustainability, as she said in an interview with the station Rac1. Almost at the same time, the vice-president of the Generalitat, Jordi Puigneró, predicted in an interview on Catalunya Ràdio that the new Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat could be “the greenest airport in Europe”.
Puigneró and Minister Sánchez closed this Monday, in a meeting in Madrid that tried to hold with total discretion, an agreement to support Aena’s plan, which intends to invest 1.7 billion euros in infrastructure to raise its capacity ceiling beyond of the 70 million annual passengers. Now, the ceiling that sets the saturation of the facility is estimated at 55 million and in 2019, the last year prior to the pandemic, they touched 53 million.
The statements this Tuesday come out of the wave of criticism that the pact between the Generalitat and the central government has received to give a boost to the growth of the airport. The doubts about the increase in air traffic in times of climatic emergency are redoubled, in this case, because the option defended by Aena is that the lengthening of a runway invades the natural space of La Ricarda.
The mayor of El Prat de Llobregat, Lluís Mijoler, has been “outraged” by the facilities given to the project and accuses the Catalan Government of having acted with “disloyalty” and of yielding “to Aena’s blackmail.” The Commons, the Mijoler formation, have supported their attacks on the airport expansion plan. The president of the parliamentary group En Comú Podem, Jèssica Albiach, has stated that investments in infrastructure are “welcome” but has criticized that the central government and the Generalitat have struck “an agreement made in secret and with their backs to the technical tables, to the local world and to the citizens of Catalonia ”.
Also within the ranks of Esquerra and Junts, the issue generates controversy. The former president of the Generalitat Quim Torra has charged against the agreement: “After living the covid I believed that we would never again make a decision that could go against the environment, against nature and the earth, which is the legacy for our children. I was wrong, “Torra wrote on his Twitter account.
Meanwhile, Minister Raquel Sánchez, who until last month was mayor of Gavà, one of the municipalities most affected by air traffic, has insisted that the growth of the airport will mean “the least possible impact” on the natural environment. The stretching of the sea track would affect, on paper, the Delta del Llobregat and an area recognized with the Red Natura 2000 seal, which will require an approval from the European Union to act on that area.
According to Raquel Sánchez, the guarantee will be total: “Not only the EU is demanding, but also the ministry itself.” For his part, Jordi Puigneró has pointed out that the environmental impact can be cushioned by technological advances. “New types of fuels will come out and we will be able to make decisions about what type of aircraft we want to land in El Prat,” he explained.