Thursday, June 29, 2006

Where The Dust Never Settles

The giant project to expand and partly bury the M-30 ring road (Living Above The Tree Line) in Madrid was honoured with a visit by a delegation from the European Parliament this week. No environmental impact analysis was ever carried out before commencing the project and this has been one of the main points that the delegation has focused on. The city administration has now said that it will carry out impact studies for other future projects on other parts of the same road, a little bit late for all the trees that have been lost, and for the River Manzanares – which when I passed the other night seemed to have been temporarily restored, presumably for the benefit of the visitors. The pretext for not carrying out the environmental study was that the M-30 is a ‘street’, and therefore did not require any such analysis. A spokesperson for the administration helpfully explained to the press that the visitors did not understand Spanish law, which may or may not be the case but perhaps what they really do not understand is the flexible interpretation the city has made of these laws. A 4-6 lane ring road with a river dividing it into two halves is less of a street than the main motorway running north through Spain. Meanwhile the companies which are benefiting from the hugely expensive project have banded together to produce and distribute a dvd which claims to show the leafy urban paradise we will have when it is finished – anyone who suggests that this might be electoral propaganda with an eye on next year’s municipal elections would be completely wrong, that would be illegal under Spanish law!

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