Electrical Highway in Northeast Catalonia, Spain

The electrical interconnection between Spain and France on the eastern part of the Pyrenees began in 2001 as an agreement between the governments of both countries. A high power line of 400,000 Volts is meant to link the French and Spanish electrical grids from Sentmenat (Barcelona) to Baixàs (department of Pyrénées-Orientales). A portion of this line, mostly in France, will go underground, and the rest will require huge support towers up to 60 meters high, with bases of 200 to 400 square meters, and corridors up to 400 meters width for about 60 km of route. The visual and environmental impact of these towers will be huge.
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Basic Data
NameElectrical Highway in Northeast Catalonia, Spain
SiteGoing from Baixàs, through Santa Llogaia dAlmena, Bescano to Sentmenat
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Other
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
From the Catalan Official Journal num. 4818 - 09/02/2007: Línia de nova construcció, entrada i sortida a SE de Begues de doble circuit a 220 kV a Begues de la línia Castellet-Viladecans, als termes municipals de Begues i de Vallirana.
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Level of Investment (in USD)77,907,834
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2001
Company Names or State EnterprisesRed Eléctrica Española (REE) from Spain
Endesa (Endesa) from Spain
ENEL Group (Enel) from Italy
Relevant government actorsCatalan Regional Government, Spanish Government, French Government
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersPlataforma No a la MAT, AMMAT, Assemblea No a la MAT Girona, Plataforma por un Nuevo Modelo Energético, La CUP
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
national and international activists
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
- Many direct actions to stop the construction. For instance, someone locked himself in a car which was buried in a place where an electrical tower had to be put.
- At the squatted forest, they were prepared to lock themselves to cement large cans or to go underground to specific tunnelling locations.
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Institutional changes:::Repression :::Criminalization of activists:::Negotiated alternative solution:::Strengthening of participation
Development of AlternativesThe opponents technical report, while acknowledging the supply problems of the province, proposed a different, less economically and environmentally costly solution: strengthen the existing 220 kV lines (intervention that requires no new paths or compensation, and barely modifies the environmental impact of existing) infrastructure.

Besides, the Platform is in favour of a decentralized energy model endowed with vary collection points from renewable energy sources (photovoltaic, wind, small hydro, biomass, cogeneration, etc).

Also, the municipalities under the AMMAT, aware of the need to also provide of tangible short-term solutions to the population, at some point accepted that the line was inevitable. However, they focused on putting pressure to bury the electrical lines.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The electrical highway is under construction and there was never a genuine debate about societal energy needs.
Sources and Materials

Ley 21/2013, de 9 de diciembre, de evaluación ambiental:
[click to view]

Ley 54/1997, de 27 de noviembre, del Sector Eléctrico:
[click to view]

REAL DECRETO 223/2008, de 15 de febrero, por el que se aprueban el Reglamento sobre condiciones técnicas y garantías de seguridad en líneas eléctricas de alta tensión y sus instrucciones técnicas complementarias:
[click to view]


No a la MAT Platform Website:
[click to view]

Newspaper article. Martí, J (13/1/2010) La MAT: cargolant el paisatge humà. El Punt:
[click to view]

[click to view]

newspaper article. Bagué, E. (13/1/2014) Gran assistència a la caminada contra la MAT a La Selva. La Directa.
[click to view]

newspaper article. Onze hores de resistència sota terra contra la MAT


Part 1:
[click to view]

Part 2:
[click to view]

Part 3:
[click to view]

Fotogaleria: una setmana de lluita contra la MAT a l’Empordà:
[click to view]

Youtube videos: MAT, where is this progress taking us? (short videos with interviews and different tactics used to oppose the project, included the squatted forest)

Youtube clip. Convocatoria de resistència.
[click to view]

Interview to Joan Martí, doctor and member of the No MAT Platform:
[click to view]

Other CommentsAmaranta Herrero
Meta Information
ContributorAmaranta Herrero
Last update21/05/2014