New government setback to the environment

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The Commission of the Environment should be burnt down. Although global environmental problems are growing and threatening current and future generations there are governments committed to environmental deregulation, short-termism and who favour certain specific sectors.

Just two months ago, the president of the Balearic real estate developers, Luis Martin, in the presence of the current President of the Balearic Government, Margalida Prohens, said publicly that the Commission of the Environment should be burnt down. It must be that real estate business is doing badly.

The Government has now announced that it is preparing a reorganization and will close down the Commission of the Environment, a collegiate body that assesses the plans, programs and projects that are declared to cause an environmental impact. What until now were being evaluated by a meeting with different people will be decided by a handpicked senior official.

Guarantees against corruption are lost

This announcement follows the path already set by the Balearic Executive when it organised the different ministries. The word environment has disappeared from the organisation chart. It does not appear in the councils nor in the general directorates.

The new measures being announced raise again strong concerns because they facilitate repeating the serious mistakes of the past. The Balearics is an autonomous community in Spain and is the area most highly affected by corruption cases nearly all of which are related to urban planning.

No informed person can ignore the fact that large amounts of money are moved in urban operations and that significant revaluations can be achieved in a very short time. For that reason, certain promotions are frequently accompanied by very creative and pressurised lobbying.

Currently, large projects, operations in protected areas and a list of other cases are obliged to be evaluated for their impact on the environment. The fact that cases are assessed by a committee offers transparency and lowers the dangers of malfeasance. Allowing assessment to be done by only one person gravely debilitates such guarantees.

It is not just a formality

Micro plastics are already found in the blood of most people. They have been found in human placentas and in breast milk. Controlling environmental impacts is not just a caprice nor a whim of environmentalists. Ignoring the subject for decades has consequences on human life.

Climate change is already conditioning crops and changing the natural timetables of our immediate environment. The overflow of the sea will be more frequent and this will affect beaches and ports. Resources of fresh water will diminish.

Not wanting to see these things and analysing them at a proper level will be at a great cost.

Throwing out environmental guarantees with the excuse of wanting to speed up procedures is highly irresponsible.

Increasing citizen surveillance

The announced amendment seems to be mainly in response to a list of specific cases that would have difficulty moving forward with the current format rather than for public concern.

Working on demand is not always satisfactory, as is shown in the case of the water park of Biniancola. GOB will strengthen its vigilance on projects of high environmental impact and will require help from the public if it is necessary to use the judicial route more frequently.