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A plan to build 8,000 homes in El Prat generates mistrust among residents

The citizen platform Ni un Pam de Terra rejects the project of the City Council, governed for 41 years by ICV-EUiA, because “it does not respond to any need”

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At the same time that the largest urban development project in years in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona) has suffered a double judicial setback caused by the neighborhood opposition and several municipal political groups, citizen misgivings have set their sights on the plan of the City Council of El Prat de Llobregat to widen its urban area on the façade of the C-31 motorway and build 8,000 new homes.

The Pratense Consistory, governed for 41 years by ICV-EUiA, can boast of a track record of environmental policies with which it has put an end to the expansion aspirations of the two large existing infrastructures in its municipal area. In recent years, when the El Prat airport and the Port of Barcelona wanted to expand their facilities again, the response of the former mayor of the city, LluÃs Tejedor, was always the same:  «not an inch more »Of territory of the municipality was willing to give up. But the City Council’s large urban development project, called El Prat Nord, has generated mistrust among residents who call it “pharaonic” and reject it for promoting “accelerated” growth in the town’s housing stock.

The main environmental platform opposed to the macroproject is precisely called Ni un Pam de Terra.  «When we chose our name, we did not know that phrase of the former mayor, but we based ourselves on slogans typical of the environmental movements,» Elena Idoate, an economist and member of the entity, explains to this newspaper.  «Tejedor’s message, also adopted a few months ago by the City Council to stage its opposition to the expansion of the airport proposed by Aena, is a hypocritical message: they say that they will not give up an inch of territory in certain places such as the natural reserves and the Baix Llobregat Agrarian Park, but they know that even in those places there have been damages in recent years due to bites from the airport and roads that have been tolerated. From the platform, they disfigure the City Council that is  «capable of promoting predatory urban growth and, at the same time, sustaining an environmentalist discourse and in favor of agriculture and health … They call it assuming contradictions, but they are aggressions to the territory. ».

Not one Pam de Terra has submitted allegations to the initial approval of the modification of the General Metropolitan Plan (PGM) that provides for the construction of housing blocks up to 13 stories high in the Estacion-La Papelera-La Seda sector, located next to to the Renfe station and the C-31 highway. Environmentalists argue that promoting a project of this size is “inappropriate” amid the health and economic crisis caused by Covid. The platform defends that the pandemic has triggered the needs for health care and aid to the economic sectors. The social and economic rescue of impoverished families, they argue, will be the priority for the next few years. At a time of economic contention, urban expansion  «is not a priority», they influence. They also ensure that the plan contradicts the objectives of the climate change law due to the emissions of polluting gases linked to the construction process.

The environmental impact is another of Ni un Pam de Terra’s arguments to oppose the City Council’s megaproject in the vicinity of the railway station and the old factories of La Seda and La Papelera. El Prat Nord appears to be an isolated and forgotten area in which there are hardly any degraded plots, ruins of a disappeared industrial activity and vehicles.  «But it is part of the Delta del Llobregat, a very vulnerable territory due to the impacts of urbanization and infrastructures», indicates Idoate, who claims that a delta should be a natural and agricultural territory.

 «That does not happen in El Prat», laments the activist, convinced that the most important environmental objectives in this territory should be the preservation of water resources and biodiversity.  «El Prat Nord is a very wide area in which these functions could occur if the environmental corridor of the river is expanded, if crops are recovered, if free and re-naturalized areas are established for walking and if the pressure received by agricultural spaces in the south of the city », maintains Idoate, who rejects that building flats and roads is a good bet for the future.  € œIt would mean leaving him at the mercy of urban development based on brick and pitch. And the fact is that Metrovacesa and Banc de Sabadell bought these lands to speculate but they could not build at the time because the real estate bubble burst.

The allegations of the entity affect the need to prioritize the rehabilitation of houses, the fight against urban speculation and the high price of rents. Thus, they criticize that the arrival of 8,000 families will mean the creation of a new neighborhood and increased mobility and consumption in El Prat. Ecologists also fear that this urban transformation is the prelude to construction in agricultural areas and in a classified humid area, La Bassa del Prat.

The City Council, which ensures that the project contemplates the preservation of that humid area near the Carrefour car park, argues that El Prat Nord is a growth plan  «long planned and studied that  «does not affect any agricultural or natural area» . Of the 8,000 homes, 40% would be social.

A municipal spokesperson explains that the project intends to continue the urban fabric following the El Prat city model: Â «It wants to be a benchmark in terms of ecological transition, re-linking it with its natural and agricultural environment, becoming a neighborhood zero emissions. It is not a pharaonic project that contradicts the objectives of the climate change law.

Ecologists insist that, in its entirety, the urban plan will mean a 50% growth in housing in the city.  «It is exaggerated, since it does not respond to any need», they settle.

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