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Opposition To Oil Prospecting Grows

Monday March 5, 2012

Opposition To Oil Prospecting Grows

Don’t fancy seeing oil washing up on Lanzarote’s beaches? Unsurprisingly neither does the local government, which has united against plans to allow Repsol to begin prospecting for oil just 23.5km off the south eastern coastline of the island.

Opposition to prospecting for oil just off the coast of Lanzarote is growing, as both the Island Government and the César Manrique Foundation voice their concerns about the potential harm to the environment and the overall legality of the project.

The full Lanzarote Government has agreed to meet again on 30th March in conjunction with the Fuerteventura Government to reject proposals that would allow Repsol to begin exploration in Canarian waters. Creating a potential rift with the central Spanish government – who they claim has no constitutional authority to allow drilling to go ahead in the coastal waters of the archipelago.

Such is the strength of opposition to Repsol’s plans that, for once, unanimous agreement has been reached across the political parties represented at the Cabildo of Lanzarote as well as at the municipal level across the island's seven councils.

Not only is there doubt about the legality of permissions being granted by the Spanish state, but also concern at how this might affect Lanzarote´s status as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The islands have numerous designations of special interest which cover the maritime areas of the Canaries - such as the Zone of Special Conservation and the declaration from 2004 of the area as a Specially Sensitive Maritime Zone.

Meanwhile the César Manrique Foundation intends to examine possible legal action against the Ministry for Industry over the possible placement of oil rigs just off the coast of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Positing that the development of such an industry in Canarian waters would put the islands' economy at risk, given that tourism is the mainstay for both islands, providing employment for some thirty thousand people.

Furthermore, the Canaries logistical position means that it is on the edge of one the most important fishing territories in the world and possesses unique flora and fauna. Whilst Lanzarote’s reliance on desalinated water could also be impacted by any spill.

As if to highlight the likelihood of environmental contamination, local newspaper La Voz has claimed that Spanish oil company Repsol has been responsible for some 7,000 oil spills in the last five years alone. A record that obviously does little to inspire confidence.

At present, Repsol's position is one of silence, as their spokespeople stated that they did not wish to talk about spills so as 'not to confuse the local population'.

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