The Castor project promoters get the first prize – The people get the bills

Right at the moment when trials related to Castor are starting, social organizations denounce a massive fraud and demand to freeze the payment of the debt generated by a compensation that should  never have been approved.

Various civil society organizations concerned with the outcomes of the Castor project (a natural gas storage facility) alert public opinion and political parties that from January 1, 2016, the debt generated to compensate the promoter of the Castor project will be included in gas bills in Spain. They argue that the compensation as guaranteed by the Royal Decree 13/2014, which compensated the promoter ESCAL UGS for resigning its concession, obviated scenarios and solutions with much less exposure to the public. The organizations believe that the most favorable option for the promoter (of which 66.6% is owned by company ACS headed by Florentino Perez) was chosen, hence ensuring a quick payment to the billionaire – such rapidity being inappropriate within a context of social emergency. Therefore, in the context of the upcoming legislative elections and the inclusion of this debt in the gas bills, the organizations urge the representatives of the different political groups to commit to take action to prevent citizens from paying for such absurdity.

The campaign, which is launched today and also includes a viral video, recalls that the Castor Project has an open lawsuit at Court No. 4 of Vinarós, where crimes of environmental transgression against the environment and against natural resources are judged. There are also three appeals of unconstitutionality against the Royal Decree that compensated the project before the Spanish Constitutional Court.  In addition, the Spanish Supreme Court has recently ruled against the environmental impact assessment of the Castor gas pipeline, which was divided intentionally into tranches to prevent further requirements.

Given this scenario of alleged illegality and clear injustice, the social organizations call for a non-payment of the debt of the project, as well as for the dismantling of the project’s facilities, as these have already proved to be dangerous and unnecessary. The National Energy Commission already warned in 2012, in reference to the gas system, about how “incentives are generated for promoters to build these facilities when the remuneration is sufficiently attractive, even when they are not necessary because of planning errors. Moreover those incentives  are impacting the Administration and therefore  the final consumer, who takes risks arising from the uncertainty in the evolution of gas demand. “

In practice, it is estimated that the total amount to be reimbursed by Spanish people would represent over EUR 4,7 billion  to be paid over 30 years. This comes in addition to the costs of maintenance, operation and administration incurred by Enagas as responsible for the unlimited suspension of the project. During this suspension period, the debt will continue to grow and to impact the gas bills. The organizations warned that the main impact will be for the ordinary people, especially those families in situation of ‘energy poverty’ – a situation experienced by  17% of the population in Spain – and who already have structural problems paying their bills. Their debt will grow, thus worsening their economic situation and severely affecting their living conditions. This will deepen an unfair situation in which while companies providing basic services do not meet the services that they must offer, citizens are obliged to pay for a poorly planned and executed project, which is currently challenged in court. Additionally, the organizations recall that large energy consumers such as PYMES (and particularly the electricity generators through combined cycle power plants), will be affected as well via their gas bills. This could then generate further effects like on electricity bills which are likely to suffer from the extra costs for electricity production.

In 2014 the organizations already denounced the opacity and administrative irregularities linked to the project, as well as the dangers associated to it – such as seismic risks. With the start of 2016 approaching, they demand to freeze the execution of the payment through bills, at least until the various judicial processes are finished, and that all responsibilities are deeply investigated and fulfilled. They also appeal to the necessary political will to push energy options other than fossil-dependent, that do not mortgage the population for 30 years and do not have severe impacts on the lives of people, territory and the environment. 

The campaign #NoPagoCastor (“I do not pay Castor”), which is launched today, uses a video targeting social media and featuring the Castor Project as the new “prize” of the Christmas Lottery, which all citizens have to pay for. The objective is to bring the issue back under the media spotlights in order to encourage political and civic reactions and prevent such a blatant case to go unpunished and forgotten.

– Aliança contra la Probresa Energètica (APE)

– Amics de Palanques

– Amigos de la Tierra

– Associació de Naturalistes de Girona

– Associacó Salut i Agroecologia (ASiA)

– Attac España

– Confederación de Consumidores y Usuarios (CECU)

– Coordinadora Cántabra de ONGD

– Ecologistas en Acción

– Ecoserveis

– EnerPlus

– Enginyeria Sense Fronteres (ESF)

– Entrepueblos/Entrepobles/Entrepobos/Herriarte

– Federació d’Associacions de Veïns de Barcelona (FAVB)

– Fuel Poverty Group

– Greenpeace

– InspirAction

– Observatori del Deute en la Globalització (ODG)

– Observatori DESC (Drets Econòmics Socials i Culturals)

– Plataforma Auditoría Ciudadana de la Deuda (PACD)

– Plataforma Ciutadana en Defensa de les Terres del Sénia

– Plataforma por un Nuevo Modelo Energético

– ReHd Mad! (red de huertos urbanos comunitarios de Madrid)

– SEO/BirdLife

– Som Energia

– Xarxa per la sobirania energètica




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