Palma airport expansion

Palma protest earlier this month against the airport expansion.

21-02-2020Morey

According to the environmentalist organisation GOB, the Balearics Environment Commission will be issuing an unfavourable report regarding plans for expansion at Son Sant Joan Airport and the remodelling of facilities.

It concerns one of the four projects for remodelling and considers that Aena’s environmental impact study does not evaluate or quantify “saturation” in summer months from an annual increase in flights.

The airports authority has therefore not quantified the repercussions, such as those for airport access points and mobility that will come about because of an increase in the number of parking places and airport users.

Furthermore, there needed to be an analysis of carrying capacity, the tourism model in Majorca, seasonal population, the use of resources and other impacts that the airport has. There is no identification of the effects on natural resources or mobility.

The project, the report suggests, “is following a model of unsustainable development” with the continuing growth in infrastructure and air traffic due to “tourism of the masses”. There will be a consequent “exhaustion of natural resources” and an increase in atmospheric and acoustic contamination.

And, researchers from the University of the Balearic Islands have criticised plans for expansion at Son Sant Joan Airport as incoherent and contradictory to declarations of climate emergency.

Four members of the Climate Change Interdisciplinary Laboratory (Lincc) held a press conference on Tuesday and set out what the airports authority Aena is planning. By 2025 there will be 33.8 million passengers, four million more than at present. There will be a 14% increase in flights per annum - up to 247,000. However, they suggested that under a 2001 strategic plan for the airport, the number of flights could go up to as many as 431,000, with passenger numbers up to 50 million. This would come about through a shifting of the runway.

Pau de Vílchez stated that in order to meet targets for combating climate change, emissions need to be reduced by 7.6% each year. The airport expansion will mean an increase in emissions and in energy consumption - from 65 to 71 megawatts. “This project will contribute to an aggravation of the climate crisis. It is totally contrary to the science for tackling the crisis and completely contradictory to the commitments of institutions in the Balearics and in Spain.”

The Lincc researchers called for the project to be withdrawn and for the Spanish government to not grant permissions for the increasing the number of flights and passengers. Policies should be consistent with the climate emergency, and Aena cannot be allowed to act in an “individual manner” without taking account of the global picture and sustainability.

They expressed the need for a study of the real carrying capacity of the Balearics that takes account of natural resources. The airport expansion should be subject to this capacity. “We cannot act against climate change by doing the same as we have until now. It would be suicide. The things which should be done are another matter, and they include a reduction in the number of tourists.”

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