Spanish government backs down on water proposals

An eco-tax on water consumption has been postponed by the Spanish government for around four years, according to the Department for Agriculture.

Now put off until 2009, the water eco-tax was to implement the EU water framework directive's requirements to pass infrastructure cost on to users. The directive states that national pricing policies must provide an "adequate incentive" to use water efficiently.

Spain's previous government played a large part in defeating attempts to impose a stronger requirement for full-cost water pricing.

The previously proposed charge was to be levied on a sliding scale from €0.1 per cubic meter for some farmland areas, and €1.5 per cubic metre for new tourist developments.

Farmers responsible for over three-quarters of Spain's water consumption joined together and fiercely opposed the plan. Following the latest government announcement, environmental campaign group Ecologists in Action has now accused the Spanish government of caving in to the horticulture lobby.

However, current Minister for Agriculture, Fernando Moraleda, stated that future proposals would minimise any impacts on farm exports and employment.

"The government has taken into account the social, environmental and economic repercussions that any changes will have, as well as the geographic and climatic conditions of the regions that would be affected," the Department for Agriculture said in a statement.

"We are in firm agreement that any changes to legislation will depend upon socio-economic implications, as well as on the agricultural sector."

By Jane Kettle




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