The Esquerra Unida de l’Alacantí has demanded that Army manoeuvres should not take place in an area that is environmentally protected, due to the negative impact that they will have on birds during their reproductive period. The demands came following recent exercises in the Tibi Reservoir using “Chinook” helicopters from which soldiers were dropped into the water.
Esquerra Unida de l’Alacantí have said that the Tibi reservoir, between Tibi and Xixona, is a demilitarised area and that the deployment of soldiers will do serious damage to the birds in a doubly protected area, especially as it was carried out in the middle of their reproductive season.
In a statement from the Environmental Arm of EU-l’Alacantí they say “we want to denounce the recent military manoeuvres that have taken place in a double protected natural area located next to the region of l’Alacantí, the Swamp of Tibi , which is part of both the catalogue of humid zones of the Valencian Community (humid zone nº 47, catalogued in 2002) and a Special Protection Area for Birds “Riu Montnegre” (SPA No. 34, approved by agreement of the Consell of 2009).”
Miguel Ángel Pavón and Miguel Ángel Padilla, members of the Environmental Arm of EU-l’Alacantí, said that “during the manoeuvres helicopters and zodiac inflatables were used, along with many troops from the Special Operations Command (MOE). The manoeuvres took place during a period that coincides with in the reproductive period of the birds that have their nesting habitat in the marsh, like the great crested grebe, the common grebe, the small sandpiper and the common redfish, and that such military activities would undoubtedly cause discomfort that could have endangered their breeding success”.
They also point out that “we must also highlight the birds of prey that nest in the Montnegre SPA, in areas very close to the swamp, such as the Bonelli’s eagle, the eagle owl, the peregrine falcon and the European short-toed, whose breeding success could also have been affected”
They say that “this natural space should not be subject to further military manoeuvres due to the negative impact on the biodiversity it hosts, and we ask the Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles, who visited Alicante during the time that the manoeuvres were being carried out , that they are not held again in the Pantano de Tibi or in any other area that is protected in Alicante”.
During the training carried out by the Special Operations Command, which is based in the Rabasa barracks in Alicante, they practiced jumping and abseiling from helicopters into the reservoir, a location that has also been the scene of previous exercises, one or two of which had the participation of the King Felipe VI when he was still a Prince.
During the manoeuvres, two “Chinook” transport helicopters took part, with two “Cougar” and two “Tigre” helicopters. The Army simulated rescue operations in hostile territory, over a period of three days during early April.