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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.

Protests started in France in 2001 and in 2004 in Spain. In Catalonia 63 municipalities opposing the project were grouped under the AMMAT association (Associació de Municipis contra la Molt Alta Tensió). A civic platform (No a la MAT) brought together activists from different backgrounds. Both entities coordinated a wave of protests from 2005. The first news of the project sparked deep concern about mainly aesthetic reasons, identity and in some cases about local economies (this was the case of rural tourism entrepreneurs and also farmers who would experience a significant loss of value of their farms).There was a widespread sense of solidarity and sympathy among the opponents, which was expressed in meetings, demonstrations and petitions.

One of the first steps opponents took was to seek advice from energy experts to find out whether the 400 kV were really necessary for the purposes referred to by its promoters. The result was a document published in 2005 that contains fundamental technical arguments against the high power line. Opponents to the project would invoke this document during their entire struggle. Many of the opponents were questioning not only the surface path of the line, but the current model of production and distribution of electricity and energy. The oppositions discourse has many dimensions: differences on the energy model, on the notion of progress, on the relationship between human beings and their natural and living environment, and also antagonistic economic interests and different notions of democracy and political governance.

The opponent strategy has been on the one hand trying to stop the project or delaying to earn some time, and on the other, especially for the AMMAT, if the project could not be stopped, push for the lines to be buried. This strategy has implied the display of different tactics, from demonstrations and petitions to camps (there were at least a camp and a squatted forest) and several direct action tactics (tunnelling, people with cemented arms into large cans, people inside a buried car...).

The opinion of MAT opponents is blunt: neither the government nor the major political parties (either in parliament or outside), nor the companies involved (REE and Endesa) wanted to discuss anything. They did not wanted to participate in a genuine public debate and had closed and unalterable views. For them, the high power line was a clear need. They repeated ad nauseam: “Gerona needs AVE and MAT? and also, “MAT is progress?. In fact, there were many awareness-raising events in many locations, organised by Town Councils, by the No MAT Plataform or some of its local groups, but it cannot really be said that there was a real attempt to have a debate on the energy model. Many opponents felt they were discounted as people and as citizens. Their technical opinions were never taken into consideration and debatable matters such as burying the lines were not even on the table to negotiate.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Electrical Highway in Northeast Catalonia, Spain
State or province:Girona
Location of conflict:Going 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 commodities:Electricity

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.

La línia aèria que es va projectar té una longitud total de 0,587 km en doble circuit i està formada per tres alineacions.

Per a lexecució daquesta línia aèria és necessària la modificació dels traçats de la línia simple circuit a 400 kV Rubí-Begues, i establir dues noves alineacions amb una longitud total d1,092 km; i de la línia doble circuit a 220 kV Sant Boi/Collblanc 2-Begues, en tres noves alineacions duna longitud total de 0,678 km.

Alineació núm. 1 Sinicia al pòrtic de la subestació de Begues 220 kV, forma un angle de sortida de 215,56º, i té una longitud de 0,047 km.

Alineació núm. 2 Sinicia al suport 18 actual de la línia Sant Boi/Collblanc 2-Begues, forma amb lanterior un angle de 244,44º, i té una longitud de 0,050 km.

Alineació núm. 3 Sinicia al suport T.2 de nova construcció, forma amb lanterior un angle de 243,33º, i té una longitud de 0,490 km. Després de lúnic suport intermedi, el suport T.1-bis de nova construcció pel qual també discorrerà el circuit modificat Rubí-Begues, aquesta alineació finalitza en el suport T.2 del circuit quàdruple pel qual discorren les actuals línies Castellet-Viladecans i els circuits a 400 kV Rubí-Begues i Vandellòs-Begues.

Llargària: 0,587 km.

Tensió nominal: 220 kV.

Potència de transport per circuit: 502 MVA.

Nombre de circuits: 2.

Nombre i tipus de conductors per fase: 1, cardinal AW.

Secció: 547,30 mm2.

Tipus daïllador: composite tipus 11.

Connexió a terra: anells tancats dacer descarburat.

Suports: metàl·lics de gelosia.

Fonaments: sabates individuals.

Nombre i tipus de cables de terra: 2, dacer recobert dalumini (7N7 Awg).

Modificació de la línia 220 kV Sant Boi/Collblanc 2-Begues, als termes municipals de Vallirana i de Begues. Està formada per tres alineacions.

Alineació núm. 1 Sinicia al pòrtic de la subestació Begues i forma un angle de sortida de 222,22º, té una longitud de 0,045 km.

Alineació núm. 2 Sinicia al suport T.18 bis de nova construcció, forma amb lanterior un angle de 235,70º, i té una longitud de 0,155 km.

Alineació núm. 3 Sinicia al suport T.17 bis de nova construcció, forma amb lanterior un angle de 206,90º, té una longitud de 0,478 km, i finalitza al suport T.17 actual de la línia Sant Boi/Collblanc 2-Begues.

Llargària: 0,678 km.

Tensió nominal: 220 kV.

Potència de transport per circuit: 651 MVA.

Nombre de circuits: 2.

Nombre i tipus de conductors per fase: 2, HAWK.

Secció: 281,10 mm2.

Tipus daïllador: composite tipus 11.

Connexió a terra: anells tancats dacer descarburat.

Suports: metàl·lics de gelosia.

Fonaments: sabates individuals.

Nombre i tipus de cable de terra: 2, compost de fibra òptica OPGW.

Finalitat: reforçar el subministrament elèctric de la zona per tal dalimentar la línia del tren dalta velocitat al tram Lleida-Barcelona, i augmentar la potència de curtcircuit a la subestació Castellet, així com ajudar a satisfer el desenvolupament experimentat a la zona del Baix Llobregat i de Barcelona.

Level of Investment for the conflictive project77,907,834
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2001
Company names or state enterprises:Red Eléctrica Española (REE) from Spain
Naturgy (Naturgy) from Spain
ENEL Group (Enel) from Italy
Relevant government actors:Catalan Regional Government, Spanish Government, French Government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Plataforma No a la MAT, AMMAT, Assemblea No a la MAT Girona, Plataforma por un Nuevo Modelo Energético, La CUP

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
national and international activists
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
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-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Institutional changes:::Repression :::Criminalization of activists:::Negotiated alternative solution:::Strengthening of participation
Proposal and development of alternatives:The 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The electrical highway is under construction and there was never a genuine debate about societal energy needs.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Ley 21/2013, de 9 de diciembre, de evaluación ambiental:

Ley 54/1997, de 27 de noviembre, del Sector Eléctrico:

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:

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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

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

No a la MAT Platform Website:


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

Part 2:

Part 3:

Fotogaleria: una setmana de lluita contra la MAT a l’Empordà:

Part 1:

Interview to Joan Martí, doctor and member of the No MAT Platform:

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.

Other comments:Amaranta Herrero

Meta information

Contributor:Amaranta Herrero
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:82