Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sevillana v. People Power

The electric company Sevillana was stymied in its attempt to raise a pylon on private land behind Turre on Tuesday 13th February. A band of labourers were erecting the offending pylon when the owner of the land and a group of people from Levante sin Cables Aereos arrived and 'took possession' of the field. You can see from the picture that this particular piece of land had been ploughed ready for planting a crop. As the two sides took position, a company engineer called the police and eventually a stunning twelve of them arrived. While a few people were quite excited by what was going on, the general feeling was calm, although a crop-dusting helicopter working the area passed overhead spraying something over the company - probably Nembutol.
The scene reminded me of a book called 'The Milagro Beanfield War' where a developer needs to run a large water-pipe over a smallholder's field of beans.
Eventually, the day was taken by the protestors and the engineers were sent away by the police, who agreed that their expropriation papers were not in order.
On the following day, Sevillana were once again sent off the land by the police, as they still didn’t have the right documents. By Thursday 15th February, The engineers were looking for other activities as a judge in Seville failed to give Sevillana a judicial order to remove the protestors from the land. A victory for the 'little guy'.
On a more serious note, the overhead cables are coming. The lack of available power (!) means that those delightful new apartments being built along the Mojacar coast cannot be occupied as they can't receive a new electricity licence from Sevillana (part of Endesa, the company due to be sold to the German E.On soon). The solution to the shortage of power is to build another line - eleven kilometres with at least 42 massive pylons, 25 metres high, stretching from Los Gallardos to Mojácar, running over private land, near houses and along the riverbed below the mountain town of Mojácar, disturbing the view.
The simple answer is either to build the line underground or indeed to bring the power on another line from Carboneras where Spain's fourth largest (and dirtiest) power station is located.The regular surges and snaps in the local electricity current are due, says Sevillana, to them being right on the brink of a meltdown. This is patent rubbish, as the amount of power used at this time is considerably less than during the summer months and Sevillana is just playing a game of brinkmanship.
Another tactic, according to press reports, is for the company to encourage the developers to make representation themselves, arguing understandably that their buildings or urbanisations need electricity.
Since, of course, Sevillana acts as a monopoly, it is hard to go up against them and the company has become used to steamrolling over any complaints.

Levante without Overhead Cables

The LSCA 'Levante sin Cables Aereos' is run by the well known local historian Juan Grima. The lawyer for the group is José Ramón Cantalejos, who is on record as saying that some landowners might have paid an ‘under-the-table’ fee to move the line away from their estates. The group has an English branch which is chaired by Jeanne Henny and she encourages as many people as possible to join. ‘Only with numbers will our voices be heard’, says Jeanne.To join in, contact Jeanne on or fill out a membership form (available from The New Entertainer in the Radio Cope tower at the Parque Comercial on Mojacar Playa or at the Campsa Petrol Station in Los Gallardos), with fifteen euros membership fee.

Between the threat of expropriation and demolition of homes, the overhead cables, the water line in Sopalmo and, eventually, the trench between the coast and the hills which will house the AVE high-speed train, it is increasingly evident that the local residents must take an interest in the local infrastructure and become involved in their municipalities, their politics and their future.

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