Staff Reporter
THE ecological watchdog in the Balearics, GOB, openly criticised central government yesterday for their “blunders and contradictions” on the issue of the enlargement of Palma's Son Sant Joan airport.

Following an offical declaration of the government's approval of the extension work and the impact it will have on the surrounding area, GOB claimed that the Environment minister, Cristina Narbona, “doesn't understand” what's at stake.

According to GOB, “the enlargement of Palma airport will turn out badly” for Majorca, as the levels of traffic forecast to use the new installations are “very worrying”.

The build-up of air operations, say GOB “clearly constitutes a danger, and threatens the preservation of natural resources and the quality of life for Island inhabitants”. By implication, adds the association, the tourist product is also at risk due to “the saturation of natural spaces”.

Should the enlargement work proceed as authorised, forecasts quoted by the ecologists in terms of aircraft passenger numbers passing through the airport by the year 2015, reach 38 million.

GOB also consider that the increase in air traffic will mean “noise pollution” for residents living near Son Sant Joan.
The group point out that “it doesn't make sense to advocate stopping the spread of urban development whilst at the same time proposing to double the capacity of Palma airport”.

Yesterday, regional government deputy leader Rosa Estarás, said she saw central government's approval of the airport extension plans and their environmental impact, as “positive” in terms of the airport being able to provide improved services to tourists and local people alike.

Estarás added that “any project which takes into account environmental sustainability, whether it be highway development or railway infrastructure, will be looked on favourably by the Balearic government”.

The regional government has been under fire throughout the year from different political lobbies for its highway building policies. Activists claim that motorway plans are unnecessarily eating into Majorca's limited territory.

Regional Environment minister, Jaume Font, called on central government to carry through the airport extension work “respecting the surrounding countryside, flora and fauna, and above all, people who live locally”.

The minister explained that last October, the regional government had published a report on environmental impact unrelated to the events surrounding Madrid's approval of the airport extension project.

In this report, the regional government made eight recommendations concerning amongst others, noise pollution; waste material generated by the enlargement construction work; the impact on the pine trees that will have to be felled; observations on wildfowl breeding periods and measures to be taken to prevent pollution by electric lighting.

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