Despite its members pocketing over 180,000 euros in bonuses during the 3 years since it was first established, the Vega Baja Waste Consortium has not achieved a single thing. Dozens of refuse trucks can still be seen during every daybreak crossing the region, as they trundle around Alicante and Murcia seeking landfill sites to deposit their waste.
The Consortium has been unable to address the shame of a region that has no facilities to process the 220,000 tons of waste produced each year.
Since 2016, the Vega Baja Sostenible Consortium, chaired by the Deputy and Mayor of Rafal, Manuel Pineda, has managed a global budget of 1,216,290 euros but has not yet been able to establish any of the infrastructure that is needed. Meanwhile, the political representatives who are members of the organisation have divided up more than 180,000 euros amongst themselves as ‘efficiency’ bonuses.
At the start of his tenure of office Pineda promised that he would have a waste plant in place within six months, but still, three years into his term it has not yet been fulfilled.
The Consortium has been shuffling from location to location, shuffling across land in Almoradí, Guardamar and Orihuela until it was announced with great fanfare that they had chosen a site in Dolores, with the approval of the City Council. That happened 12 months ago but no further progress has yet been made.
The members of the Consortium seem also to be keeping their heads down, and avoiding all of the difficult questions, with regard to their controversial decision to build a waste treatment plant between San Miguel de Salinas and Torrevieja, very close to the Natural Park of Las Lagunas, which would have the capacity to treat half of the waste of the Vega Baja.
Local activists are demanding that the project be stopped, along with supporters representing Ecologists in Action and the Salt Production company that exploits the salt flats in Torrevieja.
The situation is similar to the events that occurred in Cox, Granja and Albatera four years ago, when residents took to the streets to put a stop to the project awarded to the company Cespa-Ortiz UTE, which, at the time, was being investigated in the Brugal case for the alleged fixation of the contract.
As anticipated, the UTE defended its multi million euro interests with a judicial battle that still is not resolved and, according to Pineda, it is this that has them handcuffed and unable to get new project underway.