Since the wake of the economic crisis, debt ridden states are promoting heavy footprint investments in resource extraction as the spearhead of their economic recovery strategies. Iconic and ecologically sensitive areas in the Mediterranean are at serious risk, due to oil and gas projects in Spain, Italy and Greece. Particularly at risk are the Canary Islands, Pantelleria in Sicily and the area of the Hellenic Trench, extending from Southern Crete to the Ionian Sea.
In October 2013, several Spanish NGOs, including WWF Spain, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Ecologists in Action and SEO/Birdlife, joined forces in a campaign aiming to halt the oil extraction plans offshore Lanzarote and Fuerteventura islands by energy giants Repsol, RWE Dea Energy and Woodside. The coalition’s international pledge calling for an end to the oil plans in the Canaries has been signed by more than 90,000: http://savecanarias.org/
The $10 billion project is pending final authorisation. According to WWF Spain, the EIA is “plagued with omissions, vagueness and imprecision”, which renders impossible a thorough review of the plan.
The contested plan threatens important habitats, protected species and landscapes. It also puts at serious risk the tourism economy of one of the world’s most important visitor destinations.
In January 2014, WWF Spain warned of a “tsunami” of new oil and gas operations threatening Spain’s seas. Covering an area of 106,922 km2, roughly equal to 21% of Spain’s land territory, a new seismic survey project is being planned in the Balearic Islands. WWF claims that the project’s environmental assessment seriously underestimates the impacts on the marine environment, whereas the proposed mitigation measures are absolutely insufficient. At present, almost 12% of Spain’s marine territory is covered by plans for hydrocarbon exploration.