Almost seven years after the judgment in the Áridos case, which condemned five sandboxes from Tenerife to restore the quarries of the Güímar ravines to their natural state, a stone remains unturned in that area, still in the judicial process before the new appeals filed in the Supreme by some of those convicted and by the qualification itself, in January 2021, of the Provincial Court, declaring that the sentence was “unenforceable” considering the impossibility of restoring the six large holes caused by the extraction of aggregates for almost forty years .
However, the installation in this area of the central hydroelectric that Tenerife The demand to strengthen its electrical system is taken as the most viable alternative to “kill two birds with one stone”: rehabilitate the land in some of the closed quarries and guarantee 25% of the island’s electricity supply with a hydroelectric plant.
Having ruled out, a priori, the jump project, from the top of Anocheza to the quarries of the Morales brothers and Antonio Plasencia, now a reversible pumping project is being considered, similar to that of Gorona del Viento, in El Hierro, which would go from the motorway to the TF-28 in the Badajoz ravine, with a drop of 300 metres.
Specifically, the quarry that belonged to Fulgencio Díaz is being considered, next to the Los Guirres mountain, the one where the Mimiland Park project was to be built, and the Badajoz quarry, which is almost 100 meters deep.
Red Eléctrica Española wants to be cautious and states that “Tenerife is also going to have a waterfall, a hydroelectric power station, which allows renewable energy to be stored through pumping facilities and that the location is pending, but it could be the municipality of Güímar the one that finally receives the infrastructure”, comments the president Beatriz Corredor.
“There are several location alternatives that will depend on technical issues (there must be a difference in level between the two reservoirs) and legal issues,” stressed the person in charge of REE.
REE insists that this is the only solution to guarantee Tenerife the stability of a system to which this plant could generate about 200 megawatts (MW) per day, around 30% of the energy consumed by the Island, in addition to consider that the Güímar Valley is magnificently situated to connect those megawatts, just two kilometers away, to the high-voltage network that is generated in Granadilla or still today in Las Caletillas, where a new substation will soon start operating, practically completed, which will reinforce the 220 KW double circuit starting in 2023 to El Rosario to strengthen the north of the Island.
Even so, REE insists on being cautious, because the project has to fit into the legal framework, but all the authors point to Güímar as the best possible location for this hydroelectric plant in Tenerife, while in Gran Canaria not only is the from Soria-Chira, but another jump is being considered from the Las Niñas dam and another one from La Aldea.
Council and Government
“It is a very serious project, it is not about any capricious occurrence”, Javier Rodríguez Medina, Councilor for Sustainable Development of the Cabildo, already told this newspaper two years ago, who underlined the advantages of building the facility in Güímar, starting with the use and the regeneration of the large holes created for the extraction of aggregates during three decades.
“It proposes a solution for two quarries, because they will be tanks to store water that would function as regulating vessels and a good part of the pipe line through which the water will circulate would go underground, in such a way that the aggregates generated from that work would serve to restore the damaged areas”, explained the counselor. In addition, he highlighted the connection of the project with the judicial sentence that requires the restoration of the affected land. “It is the only serious project that I have seen to restore the damaged area,” he said.
Today, Rodríguez Medina continues betting on Valle de Güímar on Isla Baja, another location that was even considered: “The decision is firm on the suitability of Valle de Güímar for that infrastructure, but today everything is still pending on the judicial aspect.”
The Ministry of Ecological Transition is still talking about two or three alternatives on the island to install this hydroelectric plant, although the general director of Energy, Rosana Melián, points to Güímar: “It would be ideal, because, in addition to solving an environmental problem, we would have that jump, where, likewise, the main evacuation axes pass very close by”.
The sandboxes, the Consistory and the accusation, pending the appeals presented to the Supreme Court
In an order issued in January 2021, the Second Section of the Provincial Court of Santa Cruz de Tenerife declared “the impossibility” of restoring the six holes caused by the extraction of aggregates in the Güímar ravines as dictated by the sentence imposed on four entrepreneurs in 2016. At the same time, it determines to replace that obligation “with compensation for damages”, requiring the Government of the Canary Islands an appraisal of the damages, which it estimated at 185 million euros, far from the 240 that had been appraised during the oral trial in January 2016.
This order adds that the absolute impossibility of the restitution in natura of the lands affected by the extractions allows the application of article 18 of the Law of the Judicial Power and replace it with a mandatory compensation with respect to each of the quarries object of illegal exploitation.
That order of the Court has been appealed to the Supreme Court by two of the four convicted sandboxes (Hermanos Morales and Antonio Plasencia), on the understanding that they presented the restoration plans that were required of them in a timely manner, while the case was not admitted. resource of Francisco del Rosario, the only one of those convicted who did not reach an agreement in the oral trial and had to spend three years in jail.
But that order from the Provincial Court has also been appealed by the Güímar City Council, which considers itself harmed and aspires that the compensation that the convicts should pay, or part of it, reaches their coffers and not those of the Canary Islands Government. Private prosecutors, farmers Francisco Hernández and Segundo Jorge, have also appealed to the Supreme Court.