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ENVIRONMENT: EXPERTS MOOT SPANISH HYDROLOGICAL PLAN.

The debate will not focus on an overall review of the plan but on two key issues: the first concerns how much water the river will be left with when water has been drawn up under the plan and will this amount be enough to guarantee the very survival of the river? The second issue involves the most careful assessment possible of the amount of water required for the survival and protection of the Ebre delta. Commission experts believe the delta is already faced with a serious threat as a result of the reserve and dams that have been built since 1969. These have affected the sediments that are vital for the ecological survival of the delta. The European Commission is not seeking to adopt a position at this stage but rather to guarantee that the various assessments reflect the same starting points and to understand how the experts have managed to produce such conflicting findings.

The role of the DG on the Environment (which acknowledges having received several complaints about the plan) is to check if the projects that have been submitted are in step with EU environmental legislation, particularly the Habitats Directive (protection of habitats and wild fauna and flora), the Framework Directive on water (reservoir management and sound ecological quality of water) and the Directive requiring environmental impact assessments for certain projects and programmes.

The Spanish Government has made a bid for EU funding (and will continue to do so) for certain projects due to be carried out under the plan. The Environment Directorate-General has no power over decision-making in this area (this concerns money granted under the Structural Funds - Cohesion Fund, Regional Fund) but can issue advisory opinions about how project square with environment legislation, which is a precondition for enjoying EU funding. Spain has so for sought EU money for three projects: Llanura Manchega, Jugar-Vinalopo and Tarragona-Barcelona. No decision has yet been taken about these projects, which will not be considered during the experts' meeting.

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Publication:European Report
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Oct 11, 2003
Words:330
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