Threat to important birding site in Extremadura

The area around Sierra Brava Reservoir and Casas de Hitos is one of the most important wintering area for cranes, waterfowl and steppe birds in Extremadura. It is now under threat from the proposed building of several thermosolar power stations, which it appears could very easily be sited elsewhere. As Clive points out on the forum. “It is important to note that the problem here is not the new technology itself for energy production but the poorly researched situation of the proposed plan”. See also SEO’s page in English on this story.

SEO note

  • This will suppose the direct occupation of more than 300 hectares of land, directly on the principal winter roost of the common crane in Europe, with 11,325 cranes registered there last year.
  • Those two solar power plants also include a natural gas combustion unit each, to maintain the energy production during cloudy days, which will suppose the installation of both tall chimneys for the evacuation of waste gases and of cooling towers.
  • In order to be able to use the energy produced, both power stations will share an electrical substation and a new high voltage power line more than 38 km in lengh, to connect with the grid at Valdecaballeros, and which will affect the entire Vegas Altas del Guadiana zone, including two SPAs.

Martin kelsey of Birding Extremadura has brought this to the attention of iberianature so thanks to him, and he has drafted the following series of letters for you to get in contact with the authorities in Extremadura. Revenue from birding tourism now represents quite a fair of amount for Extremadura and the more people that contest this, the more the Extremaduran authorities are likely to rethink such a poorly planned scheme.

“it is very important that this message gets to as many people as possible who have had the opportunity to enjoy watching birds at the site known as Casas del Hito, in the ricefields of Extremadura, close to the town of Madrigalejo.

This wonderful area is threatened by a huge solar thermal generation plant, where heat from solar panels will be used to generate electricity, involving major infrastructure including cooling towers, gas combustion and high tension power lines. There are many other more suitable sites for such development, where the sunshine is the same, but where the impact on wildlife will be much less.

Those of you who have visited Casas del Hito in winter will have seen one ofthe finest bird spectacles in Europe: last winter’s roost of cranes totalled more than 11,300 birds (that’s 5% of the Western European population and the second largest winter roost in Spain). It has a large harrier roost and winter flocks of Little Bustard. In passage, I have recorded 27 wader species (a remarkable total for an inland site in central Spain), and it is a regular stopover for Glossy Ibis.
Breeding birds include Black-winged Kite (I have recorded 20 species of raptor there) and Extremadura’s first Kentish Plovers.

It is without doubt one of Extremadura’s top sites both for conservation as well as birdwatching.
The decision to go approve the plan will be made by the Consejería de Industria,Energía y Medio Ambiente (Council for Industry, Energy and the Environment) of the government of Extremadura. I attach examples of letters that can be sent to…

  • The head of the Extremadura government (Presidente de la Junta de Extremadura),
  • The Counsellor for Industry, Energy and Environment.

There is also an example of a letter that can be sent to the Counsellor for Culture and Tourism
which emphasises the birding tourism value of this site.

These letters are examples, and you can modify them as you wish. Some of you I know have got some wonderful photos of birds from Casas del Hito, and they couldeven be included.

If you want to support this campaign, please send these letters as soon as possible. They can either be mailed (each letter has the address) or sent by email using the email addresses below.

Your support will demonstrate international concern for the future of conservation in Extremadura and is very important.=

EXAMPLE ONE

D. José Luis Navarro Ribera
Consejero de Industria, Energía y Medio Ambiente
Junta de Extremadura
Paseo de Roma, s/n
06800 Mérida (Badajoz)
Spain

Dear Sr. Navarro:

The purpose of this letter is to express my profound concern for the future of one of the most important sites for migratory and wintering birds in Extremadura: the area around the Sierra Brava reservoir and the estate known as Casas del Hito, in the municipality of Madrigalejo in the province of Cáceres.

I have recently learnt that permission has been requested for the construction of two solar thermal power plants, each of 50 hectares area, in adjacent plots, situated in the Casas del Hito estate, with an electricity substation and a high-tension pylon line of up to 47 kms. All of this will seriously affect the two Special Protection Areas for birds in the area: “Llanos de Zorita y Embalse de Sierra Brava” and “Vegas del Ruecas, Cubilar y Moheda Alta”.

These areas, now under treat by this proposal, represent one of the most important zones for birds in Extremadura, attracting numerous visitors from all over the World, coming to watch birds there. There are few places where this sort of development could cause so much damage. It would be unforgiveable for this to proceed when there are available many hundreds of more suitable sites, each receiving the same amount of sunlight.

Given my personal knowledge of this site, I consider its ornithological importance to be very seriously under treat and I wish to register my opposition to the construction of these solar thermal power plants. I urge you to take into account the outstanding ornithological and conservation value of this area and that the Consejería de Industria, Energía y Medio Ambiente does not approve the proposal for these power plants.

Yours sincerely,

Copia al Excmo. Sr. Presidente de la Junta de Extremadura
Copia a la Consejería de Cultura y Turismo

EXAMPLE TWO

Dña. Leonor Flores Rabazo
Consejera de Cultura y Turismo
Junta de Extremadura
C/ Almendralejo, 14
06800 Mérida (Badajoz)
Spain

Dear Sra. Flores:

The purpose of this letter is to express my profound concern for the future of one of the most important sites for migratory and wintering birds in Extremadura: the area around the Sierra Brava reservoir and the estate known as Casas del Hito, in the municipality of Madrigalejo in the province of Cáceres.

I have recently learnt that permission has been requested for the construction of two solar thermal power plants, each of 50 hectares area, in adjacent plots, situated in the Casas del Hito estate, with an electricity substation and a high-tension pylon line of up to 47 kms. All of this will seriously affect the two Special Protection Areas for birds in the area: “Llanos de Zorita y Embalse de Sierra Brava” and “Vegas del Ruecas, Cubilar y Moheda Alta”.

These areas, now under treat by this proposal, represent one of the most important zones for bird tourism in Extremadura, attracting numerous visitors from all over the World, coming to watch birds there. There are few places where this sort of development could cause so much damage. It would be unforgiveable for this to proceed when there are available many hundreds of more suitable sites, each receiving the same amount of sunlight.

Given my personal knowledge of this site, I consider its ornithological importance to be very seriously under treat and I wish to register my opposition to the construction of these solar thermal power plants. I urge you to take into account the outstanding value of this area for bird tourism and that the Consejería de Industria, Energía y Medio Ambiente does not approve the proposal for these power plants.

Yours sincerely

Copia al Excmo. Sr. Presidente de la Junta de Extremadura
Copia a la Consejería de Industria, Energía y Medio Ambiente

EXAMPLE THREE

Excmo. Sr. D. Guillermo Fernández Vara
Presidente de la Junta de Extremadura
Plaza del Rastro, s/n
06800 Mérida (Badajoz)
Spain

Dear Sr. Fernández Vara:

The purpose of this letter is to express my profound concern for the future of one of the most important sites for migratory and wintering birds in Extremadura: the area around the Sierra Brava reservoir and the estate known as Casas del Hito, in the municipality of Madrigalejo in the province of Cáceres.

I have recently learnt that permission has been requested for the construction of two solar thermal power plants, each of 50 hectares area, in adjacent plots, situated in the Casas del Hito estate, with an electricity substation and a high-tension pylon line of up to 47 kms. All of this will seriously affect the two Special Protection Areas for birds in the area: “Llanos de Zorita y Embalse de Sierra Brava” and “Vegas del Ruecas, Cubilar y Moheda Alta”.

These areas, now under treat by this proposal, represent one of the most important zones for bird tourism in Extremadura, attracting numerous visitors from all over the World, coming to watch birds there. There are few places where this sort of development could cause so much damage. It would be unforgiveable for this to proceed when there are available many hundreds of more suitable sites, each receiving the same amount of sunlight.

Given my personal knowledge of this site, I consider its ornithological importance to be very seriously under treat and I wish to register my opposition to the construction of these solar thermal power plants. I urge you to take into account the outstanding environmental value of this area and its importance for bird tourism and that the Consejería de Industria, Energía y Medio Ambiente does not approve the proposal for these power plants.

Yours sincerely

Copia a la Consejería de Industria, Energía y Medio Ambiente
Copia a la Consejería de Cultura y Turismo

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