Electrical Highway Sama - Velilla, Spain

The project of building a high-voltage power line between the towns of Langreo (Asturias) and Velilla del Río Carrión (Palencia) through the Cantabrian Mountains is known as the electrical highway Sama-Velilla. This project aims to build a double circuit of 400 KV power stations connecting Lada and Velilla, which means running for almost 124 miles through a total of 19 municipalities. The project would cross protected areas, the habitats of endangered species such as the brown bear and the Cantabrian capercaillie. Proponents of the project appeal to the need to export the excess energy out of Asturias. For the coming years it seems that various current electricity generation projects will have excess capacity and according to the proponents, the two existing lines are insufficient.
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Basic Data
NameElectrical Highway Sama - Velilla, Spain
ProvinceAsturias, León, Palencia
SiteFrom Sama de Lagreo to Velilla
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
Affected municipalities: Langreo (Asturias), San Martín del Rey Aurelio (Asturias), Laviana (Asturias), Aller, (Asturias), Cebanico (León), Cistierna (León), La Ercina (León), La Pola de Gordón (León), La Robla (León), La Vecilla (León), Matallana de Torío (León), Prado de la Guzpeña (León), Santa Colomba de Curueño (León), Valderrueda (León), Vegacervera (León), Vegaquemada (León), Villamanín (León), Guardo (Palencia), Velilla del Río Carrión (Palencia).
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Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesRed Eléctrica Española (REE) from Spain
Relevant government actorsAsturias Regional government, Castilla y León Regional government, Ministry of Industry, All the affected Town councils
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersPlataforma «No a la Sama Velilla», Plataforma en Defensa de la Coordillera Cantábrica, Unión de Concejos para la Defensa y Desarrollo de la Montaña Central Leones, Experts from León University, Fundación Oso Pardo
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
- autonomous activists
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Otherelectromagnetic emissions are a concern
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseInstitutional changes
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Some of the people claim to have a different route for the high power lines. This is also used as a strategy to earn time.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Currently the project is frozen due to the economic crisis. The Spanish government says it is not urgent.
Sources and Materials

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:
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Ley 21/2013, de 9 de diciembre, de evaluación ambiental:
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Ley 54/1997, de 27 de noviembre, del Sector Eléctrico:
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- Julio Lago, an economist from Leon University points out 10 main reasons about the unneccesity of the project:
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Web with lots of information:
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Wikipedia: Polémica en torno a la línea de alta tensión Sama-Velilla: émica_en_torno_a_la_línea_de_alta_tensión_Sama-Velilla
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Newspaper article: Romero, M (17/05/2010). Dos millones de ciudadanos luchan en España contra tendidos de alta tensión. Diario de León:
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Newspaper article: Vivas, J. (12/01/2014). Las plataformas contra Sama-Velilla reavivan en Europa la oposición a la línea. La Nueva España:
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Newspaper article: García, J. A. (25/01/2013). El Gobierno aplaza la ejecución de la línea de alta tensión Sama-Velilla. El Comercio:
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Media Links

Part 1:
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Part 2:
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Part 3:
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TV program: El escarabajo verde. Short Documentary about the Sama Velilla Conflict:

Meta Information
ContributorAmaranta Herrero
Last update08/04/2014