20/03/2012 Lanzarote/Fuertevetura (KMC) - Oil prospectors have been granted permission to drill for oil off the coasts of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. Canarian authorities have reacted angrily to the decision by the Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism, José Manuel Soria, to allow Repsol to start drilling for oil 60km off the coast. There are fears from environmentalists who believe that any oil spill would have a devastating impact on the wildlife and landscape in the Canary archipelago and regional politicians fear a spill would wreck beaches and drive tourists away.
“This is not compatible with the kind of sustainable toursim we want,” said regional Prime Minister Paulino Rivero from the Canary Coalition party. “It only benefits Repsol.”
But Spain’s new conservative government has justified its decision by saying that the country will reap the economic benefits of any oil find.
“Apart from reducing our almost total dependency on imported gas and petrol, it also has great potential to create highly qualified jobs and benefit the islands economy,” a government statement said.
Opposition to the plans is particularly fierce here on Lanzarote where a demonstration is being held on Saturday 24 March at 7pm from Calle Real in the centre of Arrecife to Recinto Ferial close to the Cabildo building.
The César Manrique Foundation (FCM) called a press conference today (Tuesday) to announce they fully supported the demonstration and called for more participants to do the same.
President of the FCM, Jose Juan Ramirez said: “The decision, contrary to all, offers a very narrow view of democracy. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the death of César Manrique and the best tribute to him would be to go to the demonstration on the 24 March.”
The Lanzarote bus service is also joining the action. The islands buses have been adorned with posters advertising the demonstration.
Mayor of Arrecife, Manuel Fajardo said: "The Canary Executive, the Parliament of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura Councils and its 13 municipalities all oppose any drilling by Repsol and we have made this known to Minister Soria, who has not listened. Therefore we will continue protesting until we are heard in Madrid.”