The idea of building a port in Granadilla dates back from 1975. The project has been modified several times until its current conception. It has been a very controversial project, since it would destroy high-value environmental areas and species, which are also protected by environmental law.
The promoters (local and regional government) have declared it 1) a Project in the general interest in the law 27/1992, 2) a Project of first degree public interest for social and economic reasons by the Canarian government and 3) having the expressed support of the Canarian Parliament.
The opponents (local, regional & national environmental groups, university-related groups and other citizens groups) have intensely contested the proposal of the port. They have highlighted the port project is not a real need and it will destroy valuable environmental areas and irreversibly affect species such as Cymodocea nodosa (a type of seagrass) or Caretta cretta (Loggerhead Sea Turtle).
The Project received a positive EIA in February 2003. In 2004 the environmental groups brought the case to the Petitions Committee of the EU, asking for an intervention, as the affected areas were included in the Habitats Directive. In 2006, the European Commission considered the port viable (based on the declaration of the Canarian government of being an important project in social and economic reasons) but established a series of compensatory measures to counterbalance the potential harm to Natura 2000 areas that were going to be affected. As a consequence of this process, the Project was modified and reduced significantly.
However, opposition to the Granadilla Port is still very active. Thousands of people have joined the different protests against the port. They gathered more than 56,000 signatures to bring a Popular Legislative Initiative in order to protect the Granadilla coast. They organised at least 4 huge demonstrations with thousands of people (between 20,000 - 50,000 people each time).
In 2007, the Port Authority asked the Spanish Ministry of Environment permission to relocate the endangered species Cymodocea nodosa, also known as little Neptune grass, that otherwise would be destroyed. The EJOs and their allies plan to use the critical situation of this species to gain time and delay the construction. They plan to bring the case again before the EU Commission and to organise big protests in the streets.
In 2009, the Canarian government un-listed the little Neptune grass from the catalogue of endangered species. 5 days after, the port building works begin. The local EJOs then brought the case before the Canarian Highest Court of Justice and they ask for the suspension of the construction works. 2 weeks later the Court stopped the construction work.
In 2010, the Canarian Parliament makes a new Law on Canarian endangered species, in which they delete more than 170 endangered species that were considered previously under the Habitats Directive. The little Neptune grass does not appear as an endangered species under the new Law.
In July 2010, contruction works re-started.
By 2013, the construction works have not yet finished (about 60% of the project is already built) and it is not clear when it will be finished. The project is lacking investment funds.
The Highest Court of Justice will fail for the environmental groups on the issue of unlisting the little neptune grass from the endangered species list.