Canary Islands Government Defers Decision on Transplanting Sad Vipers to Tenerife Council


The Canary Islands Government deems itself unfit to determine whether the population of sad vipers at the Cuna del Alma site should be relocated. The Department of Ecological Transition has revealed that the authority to translocate this protected species lies with the Tenerife Council. Environmental activists discovered specimens of sad echium in Puertito de Adeje, prompting the Regional government to halt the construction of 420 luxury villas. To proceed with the large-scale project, the developer requested the relocation of the plants.

The region under José Antonio Valbuena’s leadership issued a clear negative report, stating very few exceptions warranting the relocation of vipers. Exceptions would only be made in cases of health hazards, threats to human safety, significant agricultural, livestock, forestry, fishing, or water quality damage, compelling public interest, or grounds for research or education.

The file initiated by the Canary Islands Government in November 2022 has lapsed. The Department of Ecological Transition has initiated the procedures to reopen it. The first step, as explained by the division overseen by Mariano Hernández Zapata, was consulting the Executive’s Legal Services, who determined that the decision to relocate these specimens lies with the Tenerife Council.

The highest island authority has previously expressed its stance on relocating protected species. In the prior term, the Council suggested moving the affected cardones and tabaibas due to the tourism project and utilising them for roundabout decorations.

Recently, the Vice President of the Council, Lope Afonso, supported the urbanisation ”if it meets” all requirements. Afonso backed “investments improving the island’s economic and employment prospects while complying with legal, including environmental, requirements.” Additionally, Canary Islands Government President Fernando Clavijo criticised urban bureaucracy, stating that ”If a beetle or snake appears, everything stops.”

The Canary Islands High Court upheld the project’s suspension. Rejecting Adeje City Council’s appeal to lift the works suspension, citing an ”imminent threat of environmental harm”. The court maintained the halt due to the lack of an urbanisation impact analysis on habitats.

The sad viborina is a species listed in the Canary Islands Protected Species Catalogue. This catalogue highlights wild species deemed valuable in the Canary Islands for scientific, ecological, cultural significance or uniqueness and rarity. Government experts confirmed a new cluster of sad vipers at the Cuna del Alma site, with the habitat conducive for optimal species development.

Expired Sanctions

The elapsed Cuna del Alma-related file is not the sole expired case. The Canary Islands Government allowed a penalty file, concerning the destruction of an archaeological site, to expire. This document proposed a substantial €600,000 fine against the developer for severe property violation.

Moreover, the Canary Islands Agency for the Protection of the Natural Environment (ACPNM) closed the penalty file initiated against the developer for lacking an environmental impact assessment at the urbanisation’s start. The Agency’s resolution overturned the €110,000 fine and lifted the works stoppage, which dated back to late 2022.

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