The Ence paper mill will continue in the Pontevedra estuary. The Supreme Court has decided to endorse the permission that the Government of Mariano Rajoy gave the company in 2016 to maintain its factory in this marsh for six more decades. The judges upheld an appeal from the company and annulled the ruling of the National Court that struck down this permit at the request of Greenpeace and the Association for the Defense of the Ria (APDR) on the understanding that this factory should not remain in a maritime-terrestrial public domain since that it could carry out its activity in any other location less damaging to the environment.

Ence in Pontevedra: bad smells, social protest and a city council that declared its citizen Mariano Rajoy unwelcome


The room, as reported in a statement, considers that concessions prior to the General Law of Coasts of 1988 can be extended, as is the case, provided that favorable environmental reports are recorded. “In the matter analyzed, there were favorable reports from the Administration in this matter,” he adds. One of the magistrates of the section, Ángeles Huet, has announced a particular vote against.

The Ence paper factory arrived in the Lourizán marshland in Pontevedra in 1959 with authorization from the Franco administration through the National Institute of Industry. The extension to continue there until 2073, six more decades, was signed by the executive from Pontevedra, Mariano Rajoy, in 2016 and brought before the National Court by Greenpeace and the Association in Defense of the Ría. They questioned whether the factory could be directly on the estuary when the Coastal Law specifies that a maritime-terrestrial public domain such as this can only be occupied if the paper mill necessarily needs to be located there.

The National Court agreed with both appellants and annulled the extension authorized by the Government of the Popular Party in 2016, after the State Attorney itself recognized that it was necessary to remove the factory from there because its location at the foot of the estuary was not justified. The contentious-administrative judges recognized that fresh water was necessary to carry out Ence’s paper activity, but that the correct thing would be to locate the factory in the “proximities”, not in the middle of the estuary.

The underlying conflict is not only related to the affectation that the presence of this factory for decades has on the estuary in Pontevedra. It has an important social and labor aspect: more than 5,000 jobs, according to estimates by those affected, depend on the future of the factory.

When the Supreme Court admitted the company’s appeal against this sentence for processing, it established what the debate was going to be: whether it is necessary to prove that the facilities cannot have another location, but also what happens if, over the years, the domain public “is not in its natural state and has been transformed as a result of the intervention of the State Administration”.

Greenpeace regrets the decision

The Greenpeace environmental association has assured this newsroom that it regrets the decision of the high court that “endorses the 60-year extension granted to the paper mill in 2016 by the Acting Government of Mariano Rajoy.” In a statement sent to the media, Greenpeace assures that “Ence’s presence in the estuary is not justified since it prevents the recovery of the Lourizán marsh for the Galician natural heritage and restore the disaster generated in the last 60 years.” “Today the environment loses out,” declared Manoel Santos, coordinator of Greenpeace in Galicia.

The Ministry for Ecological Transition (MITECO) have declined to make any kind of assessment until they know the full content of the sentence that they will study “in detail” when it is published in a few weeks, as well as the individual vote that will accompany it.

Ence celebrates the ruling and figures its effects at 169 million profit

The Ence company celebrates the decision adopted by the Supreme Court and assures in a statement that it “confirms the legality of the concession” granted in its day by Mariano Rajoy. The company ensures that the ruling “clears up the uncertainty about the future of the facility and the 5,100 linked to its activity.”

In that document, Ence ensures: “The reversal of asset impairments and expense provisions recorded in the 2021 financial statements, as a result of the rulings of the National Court. it will have an estimated positive impact of 169 million euros on the profit of the company in 2022”.

The company has shot up more than 26% on the stock market this Tuesday after learning of the sentence, setting the share price at 3.84 euros at 3:40 p.m.


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