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.
However, since the proposal of the project in 2007, opposition has increasingly been growing from citizens, social movements, town councils, environmental groups and political parties. Thus, all the municipalities affected by the electric highway have expressed their rejection of it. Opponents claim the line will deface some the only remaining pristine valleys in the region and they also claim that the impacts of the electro-magnetic radiation from the line are uncertain but that it could be damaging to human and animal health. On the opposite side, the Asturian government, together with the Ministry of Industry and the company promoting the project, Red Eléctrica de España, are defending the construction of the high power lines.
Among the many actions taken by the opponents there are several demonstrations in both Asturias and León, the appearance before the European Commission and the submission of 27,000 claims against the project. These were rejected by REE and the opponents replied by starting a legal process. In february 2008, the platform against the sama-velilla electrical highway joined other groups in Spain struggling with the same sorts of projects (Valencia and Cataluña), to coordinate efforts against high power lines.
Currenly, the project is frozen mainly due to the Spanish economic crisis and lack of investment. The current right-wing government has announced that the project is not urgent and wont be executed before 2016.
|Name of conflict:||Electrical Highway Sama - Velilla, Spain|
|State or province:||Asturias, León, Palencia|
|Location of conflict:||From Sama de Lagreo to Velilla|
|Accuracy of location||MEDIUM (Regional level)|
|Type of conflict. 1st level:||Industrial and Utilities conflicts|
|Type of conflict. 2nd level:||Other|
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).
Tensión nominal: 400 kV.
Número de circuitos: Uno.
Número de conductores por fase: Dos.
Tipo de conductor: Dúplex Rail.
Cable de tierra: Dos cables compuestos de tipo Tierra- óptico.
Tipo de apoyos: Torres metálicas de celosía.
Cimentaciones: De patas separadas de hormigón en masa.
Puesta a tierra: Anillos de varilla de acero descarburado.
|Type of population||Rural|
|Start of the conflict:||2007|
|Company names or state enterprises:||Red Eléctrica Española (REE) from Spain|
|Relevant government actors:||Asturias Regional government, Castilla y León Regional government, Ministry of Industry, All the affected Town councils|
|Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:||Plataforma «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|
|Intensity||MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)|
|Reaction stage||PREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)|
Local government/political parties
- autonomous activists
|Forms of mobilization:||Creation of alternative reports/knowledge|
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
|Environmental Impacts||Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover|
|Health Impacts||Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)|
|Other Health impacts||electromagnetic emissions are a concern|
|Socio-economical Impacts||Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place|
|Conflict outcome / response:||Institutional 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:||Not Sure|
|Briefly explain:||Currently the project is frozen due to the economic crisis. The Spanish government says it is not urgent.|
|Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)|
|References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries|
|Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network|