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Spanish Government Gives Go-Ahead to Huge Water Project

Spanish Government Gives Go-Ahead to Huge Water ProjectSpain's ministry of environment has approved on 31st October the Environmental Impact Statement for the controversial Ebro river transfer project. The scheme, which is part of the National Hydrological Plan, involves diverting the Ebro, one of Europe's biggest rivers. The approval allows the government to start hiring companies and begin constructing one of Europe's biggest-ever water projects. More than 200 measures will be taken to guarantee the environmental preservation and protection throughout the 914 km route.The Ministry of environment has already handed the report to Margot Wallström the European commissioner for environment in Brussels. The government will formally apply for EU funding for the project by year end, once the last administrative proceedings in Spain have been concluded. The project divides Spaniards but now it looks set to go ahead. Farmers and businesses in Andalucia and Valencia have campaigned in favour of the scheme for years while regional governments in the north, environmentalists and water experts argue the project will destroy livelihoods and seriously damage the Ebro.The river Ebro in the north will be diverted to the more arid south, by building 331 km of canals, 97 km of tunnels and 12 km of aqueducts, to transfer a maximum of 1.050 hm3 of water each year. The project includes 13 tunnels with lengths exceeding 3 km and 10 tunnels with lengths comprised between 1 and 3 km. The tunnels have been presented at the Tunnelling 2003 show held in Madrid on 28th-30th October. For details about the tunnels, read E-News Weekly 47/2003. Click es/85. Visit www.mma.es 47/03.