It was an enigmatic social media image and message - Majorca will be a doughnut. It was, I now discover, not quite as enigmatic as certain sources were claiming it to be. There was an explanation, if one had gone looking for it, prior to the “mystery” having been revealed at the weekend.
Behind the doughnut, one could almost have guessed anyway, were the likes of environmentalists GOB and Terraferida. They were joined by certain groups from three municipalities - Alaro, Binissalem and Lloseta. The image of the doughnut, to represent Majorca with a hole in it, wasn’t the whole of the island except the coasts. The hole wasn’t really the centre of the island either, given that claimants to being the geographic centre are somewhat to the east (Lloret de Vistalegre in particular). The hole was, and is, in Alaro. It’s known as Can Negret, and there’s a massive great quarry at Can Negret. That’s the hole.
A “platform” had been formed. Platforms get formed for all manner of things, and they are especially common when it comes to some type of opposition - environmental, more often than not. So, GOB, Terraferida and others had come up with this platform in order to advocate a Raiguer, which is “living, sustainable, free of aggressions towards the land”, such as that of the Can Negret stone quarry. (Raiguer is the region of Majorca which stretches from Marratxi to Alcudia; Alaro, Binissalem and Lloseta all fall within this region.)
A tweet from GOB made clear the principal target for the platform’s opposition - Cemex, the Mexican multinational which has closed the cement plant in Lloseta and which is party to, along with the Balearic government, a process of “reindustrialisation” to compensate for the loss of the plant. An element of this process is what happens to the plant, and this will apparently involve the creation of a different plant, one for aggregates. The Can Negret quarry, the platform says, will be further exploited. The reindustrialisation project will continue “destroying this paradise”.
Imagery used in a video is pretty striking. There will be many who are unaware of this quarry’s existence, but if you take a look at the video (search for Reviure Tofla, the name of the platform, and you’ll find it), you will be aware of just what a scar it is on the landscape.
The Balearic Environment Commission has issued a favourable report in terms of the environmental impact of the proposed new plant. The commission, which is a government body and is headed by Antoni Alorda of Més, has regularly opposed various projects on environmental grounds, one of them being the plans for the airport, which right now seem rather redundant.
The reputation of Més as an “eco” party with allies from the environmental lobby (e.g. GOB) has taken something of a knock because Més at the Council of Majorca supported the project for the Llucmajor-Campos road. It has seemed as if the party has desperately been trying to redeem itself because of the controversy that project has generated and also because some electoral support was withdrawn as a consequence. The Més-headed commission now finds itself embroiled in another controversy. Its report had to do with the plant and not the quarry, and the platform believes that this has been an oversight, which it would like rectifying. There needs to be a broader environmental impact assessment to take account of activity at Can Negret.
The quarry is in the Serra de Bellveure, a hill range which is an abutment to the Tramuntana and was intended to have been included in the project to create the Tramuntana Nature Park. This was almost twenty years ago, and it never came to fruition because the Tramuntana was given a lesser classification - that of “paraje natural”, to mean something like a natural location. Bellveure was thus excluded from a grander scheme for protection.
The Cemex reindustrialisation plan hasn’t gone all that smoothly. A big-ticket item is the hydrogen plant, one about which the minister for energy transition, Juan Pedro Yllanes, expressed his scepticism last November. He couldn’t see that there was the demand for hydrogen as a fuel. Four days after he had said this, President Armengol was insisting that it will be the largest such plant in Europe. More recently, the minister would seem to have become less sceptical.
The reindustrialisation is needed. The cement plant was a significant employer. Aggregates and hydrogen are just two parts of the plan, and both have merits, but the further exploitation of Can Negret does make one wonder. Quarries are obviously needed. They have to be somewhere, and if the area is to be sustainable economically and not just environmentally, then Can Negret provides this somewhere. Nevertheless, the doughnut of the Bellveure is a sad sight.