Where would the cables go? | R.E.

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In January 2011, Red Eléctrica España embarked on a project that would take until August 2012 to complete, which covered a distance of 237 kilometres and had to cope with sea depths that could be as much as 1,485 metres.

Project Rómulo was the first submarine interconnection for the transmission of electricity in Spain. Siemens was contracted to build the converter stations. Two specialist ships were used to lay the cable - Guilio Verne and Nexans Skagerrak. Rómulo cost 420 million euros, and at the two ends of the the 237 kilometres were Sagunto in Valencia and Santa Ponsa in Mallorca.

Mainland connection is part of the equation for greening Mallorca’s energy and dispensing with, once and for all, coal-fired power stations such as Es Murterar in Alcudia. One connection is not deemed sufficient for the whole of the Balearics (there are additional connections to Ibiza and Minorca), so a second is on its way. And where to? Alcudia, that’s where, and specifically to a part of Alcudia which is iconic on account of the little island just a short distance away from the shore - S’Illot.

The beach at S’Illot isn’t what could be described as the best in Alcudia. But best is subjective in that there are people who love it because of its character and its location - on the way to La Victoria and on the bay of Pollensa. And it’s here where Red Eléctrica envisages the second submarine interconnection reaching land.

Alcudia town hall, to put it mildly, is horrified at the idea. The parties that make up the administration - Mayor Barbara Rebassa’s PSOE plus El Pi and Més - have been joined by all the opposition parties in expressing their total rejection.

Rebassa says that there have been meetings with the Balearic government’s vice-president and minister for energy transition, Juan Pedro Yllanes, at which explanations have given of four options for where the cable should arrive in Mallorca. The upshot of these meetings has been to inform the town hall that the bay of Pollensa and S’Illot represent the “most advantageous” of these options. Rebassa isn’t inclined to agree and nor is anyone else at the town hall. “Our obligation is look after our more than 20,000 residents,“ says the mayor.

Red Eléctrica, responsible for the electricity infrastructure in Spain, is very keen to display its social responsibility in terms of environmental considerations. The video for Project Rómulo highlighted attention paid to posidonia sea grass in the Santa Ponsa area and to minimising impact on land. The company will no doubt have these issues uppermost in its thoughts when it comes to the new connection project, but one can already hear the howls of environmentalist outrage. There’s been a recent report pointing to areas of the seabed in the bay of Pollensa which are “almost dead” and now Red Eléctrica wants to stick cables on it.

If and when the S’Illot option is adopted, and it is the frontrunner, it will be clearer what this might actually entail. Where would the cables go? Right under the beach or what? It is already understood that from S’Illot they would then travel eleven kilometres to the Sant Martí substation by the Es Murterar power station.

These eleven kilometres, with Red Eléctrica paying due attention to minimising the impact, are likely to provoke more than just environmentalist condemnation. Who can remember the protests against the Red Eléctrica plan to run high-tension underground cables through the port area of Alcudia some years ago? In the end, the company had to rethink.

No amount of information could convince residents that these cables didn’t pose a health risk, especially to children at the Norai primary school. As the town hall is pointing out, the connection from the mainland would be high-tension cables. And obviously so.

On Thursday, the mayor, accompanied by representatives of all the parties at the town hall, issued a statement, part of which is reproduced here:
“I speak on behalf of the town hall and all of the political parties that make up the council as we all have the same position. We wish to make it clear that we are all opposed to the cable going through the La Victoria mountain area. We want to protect our natural gem and defend our territory with its 20,600 residents.

“We demand to be taken into account when decisions are made. We cannot consent in any way (that this cable) enters a sensitive and protected area that is so loved by all the people of Alcudia. We know from meetings that this is not the only way. There are alternatives that would reduce the impact it would have on the municipality.

“Let it be clear to the citizens of Alcudia that the town hall is saying NO.”