Green light for investment of €581 M in sanitation and wastewater treatment projects, implementation of waste legislation and adjustment of power lines

This package of investments in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan has been allocated to sanitation and wastewater treatment projects in towns with populations of less than 5,000 inhabitants, support for the implementation of waste regulations and the adjustment of power lines to prevent damage to birdlife. This first package, which has an impact on the territory and a knock-on effect, is consistent with the European Union’s requirements that at least 37% of recovery plan resources be allocated to decarbonization and ecological transition, and that 100% comply with the principle of not harming the environment.

Yesterday, the Spanish Cabinet, acting on a proposal from the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITECO), authorized the territorial distribution of the first package of funds associated with the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan.

€581 M (€581.121.060) will be allocated to financing projects to improve sanitation and wastewater treatment in towns with populations of less than 5,000, supporting the implementation of waste regulations, and adjusting power lines to prevent harm to birdlife. The distribution of these first subsidies will now have to be submitted for approval to the Sectoral Conference on the Environment, although it should be noted that the Autonomous Communities have been informed of all these projects from the outset and have participated in the analysis of them.

Teresa Ribera, the Spanish Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, pointed out that this first package of subsidies has a territorial impact and a knock-on effect, whilst being consistent with the European Union’s requirements that at least 37% of recovery plan resources be allocated to decarbonisation and ecological transition, and 100% be allocated in accordance with the principle of not harming the environment. This investment package “is a sign of our commitment to moving forward with the structural reforms and investment projects needed to comprehensively transform and modernise the Spanish economy and its production model,” she said.

SANITATION AND WASTEWATER TREATMENT IN SMALL MUNICIPALITIES

The first line of action, amongst others planned within the framework of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan for sanitation and wastewater treatment, involves the allocation of funds to towns with populations of up to 5,000. €100 million has been earmarked for the purpose of enabling such municipalities to achieve compliance with the Directive on urban wastewater treatment.

This initiative for small municipalities complements and extends the investments made in sanitation and treatment actions declared to be of general interest by the Directorate General for Water in recent years, through the implementation of ERDF 2014-2020 funds. These actions will continue to be financed through the Recovery Plan and European Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 funds with the aim of achieving full compliance with the Directive on wastewater treatment.

WASTE AND CIRCULAR ECONOMY

In the area of waste and the circular economy, the allocation of €416 million (€416,250,000) to support the implementation of waste regulations has been approved. This comes in addition to a Circular Economy Programme, with a budget of €1.87 million, and the PIMA environmental programme, which has a budget of €3 million.

These actions seek to accelerate the investments required to improve waste management in Spain and ensure compliance with the latest EU targets for recycling and preparation for reuse of municipal waste. The aim is to promote selective collection and treatment as a tool to improve the use of materials and implement the circular economy.

The implementation of new selective collection systems for different types of waste – such as bio-waste and textiles, for example – are obligations that will be set out in the draft Bill on Waste and Contaminated Land, which will shortly go before the Spanish Cabinet prior to being submitted to Parliament. The segregated collection of bio-waste, for example, reduces methane emissions, whilst improving efficiency in the management of other waste fractions.

CORRECTIVE ACTION ON POWER LINES

In the area of biodiversity conservation, €60 million has been allocated to actions to adjust power lines to prevent harm to birds. The electrocution of birds on power lines has become the main conservation problem for many of the species featured in the Spanish Catalogue of Endangered Species. Conservative estimates suggest that at least 39,000 birds die each year from electrocution or collisions with power lines. “Spain has a great responsibility in caring for birdlife because it is the home to very significant populations of protected species, such as the Spanish Imperial Eagle and the Little Bustard, two species that have been affected by unsafe power lines in the 21st century”, Ribera pointed out.