A march held in San Miguel de Salinas at the weekend demonstrated overwhelmingly the passionate objections felt by more than 800 people against the proposal to establish a Gypsum Mine in the municipality.
Organised by the Neighborhood Coordinator of San Miguel de Salinas, with the support of the San Miguel Arcángel Neighborhood Association, almost 15% of the population turned out on Sunday to demand that the Valencian Generalitat turn down a request to grant research permits to a company in order to conduct surveys on a 1,400 hectare plot of land, of which 1,065 overlaps onto the Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) of the Sierra de Escalona and Dehesa de Campoamor.
At the head of the march was a banner that read: “In defence of our land, Stop the mine!”
The protest, with the exception of the mayor who sent his apologies, also brought out all of the municipal councillors onto the streets with the unusual sight of delegates from the PP, PSOE, IU and UPyD walking along hand in hand.
The company “Rio de Aguas SL”, which is part of the Almeria group Torralba, has applied for permission to carry out a geological survey across and area of 1,450 hectares on the northwest face of the municipality with a research budget of 490,000 euros.
At the end of the demonstration a number of statements were read by the neighborhood spokesmen and also the deputy mayor of San Miguel, Sergio Correas, who said that the full City Council agreed last week, unanimously, to send their objections to the proposal, which has been submitted to the Generalitat Valenciana for the granting of research permits to carry out the survey.
The spokesman for the residents, Manolo Gómez, said “In addition to the tourism impact, the value of our properties would plummet and there would also be devastating affects on our natural heritage.” “A gypsum mine of this size would be catastrophic for the municipality,” said Gómez, who highlighted “the unity” that has been established between the residents and the City Council, against the project.
Orihuela council has also said that it too rejects the gypsum mine project in order to avoid environmental damage with the Councillor for the Environment, Miguel Ángel Fernández, saying that the operating company’s proposals are full of holes.
He said that even the proposed geological study in San Miguel de Salinas “will affect the Oriolan territory so we are not willing to allow the survey, which will cause untold environmental damage in the Sierra Escalona natural park and in Dehesa de Campoamor, to go ahead.”
Fernandez said that “the Sierra Escalona and Dehesa de Campoamor SPA hosts up to thirteen different species of birds of prey. It is the municipality’s obligation to protect them and we believe that the environmental impact has not been adequately evaluated.”
The Councillor for the Environment added that “we hope that these objections will be taken into account and that the request for a research permit will be rejected.”
Asociación de Vecinos San Miguel Arcángel