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Quarries and Land Overexploitation in the Baix Camp region, Catalonia, Spain


The Baix Camp (Tarragona) has one of the highest concentration of quarries in Catalonia. In municipalities like Riudecols, currently we find that approximately 3.5% of the area of the municipality is occupied by quarries and planned permit extensions being processed means this will soon reach 11% of the municipality.

The lack of regulation of these activities at the municipal level has meant that very often companies operate without any license and with complicity of government departments with responsibility for environmental control of these activities. Moreover, in recent years there has been a clash of interests between these extractive activities and other economic initiatives such as rural tourism, the relaunching of certain agricultural areas, the enhancement of the landscape and the protection of the environment.

Other municipalities that are affected by these activities in Baix Camp include: Duesaigues, l'Argentera, Alforja, Riudecanyes, Vilanova d'Escornalbou, Pratdip Colldejou, Montroig del Camp, Montbrió del Camp, Riudoms, Yinyols, Maspujols, lAleixar, Botarell, les Borges del Camp, etc. In summary, a large majority of municipalities in the region have quarries, quarries that provide income for taxes, but also generate environmental externalities.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Quarries and Land Overexploitation in the Baix Camp region, Catalonia, Spain
State or province:Tarragona
Location of conflict:Baix Camp region
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Land
Sand, gravel

Project Details and Actors

Project details

There are about 230 hectares of quarries

Project area:237
Type of populationSemi-urban
Company names or state enterprises:La Ponderosa (LEMAR) from Spain
LEMAR from Spain
Relevant government actors:Municipalities (L' Argentera, Riudecols, Botarell, Duesaigües, Vilanova dEscornalbou, etc.), Government of Catalonia, Catalan Environmental Agency, Catalan Government, Regional Government.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:GEPEC (Grup dEstudi i Protecció dels Ecosistemes del Camp - Group for Study and Protection of Land Ecosystems, Defenterra (Associació per la Defensa i Millora del Territori i Patrimoni de LArgentera - Association for the Protection and Improvement Planning and Heritage of Argentera, Alveolus (Defensa i millora del territori i patrimoni de lAlbiol - Defense and improvement of land and assets of Albiol, Delterpa (Associació per la Defensa del Territori i Patrimoni de Riudecols - Association for Environmental Defense and Heritage of Riudecols)

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Fires
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
New legislation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Under expansion
Development of alternatives:Conservation of the region, change of economic priorities, respect for public opinion and promotion of environmental tourism.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Some quarries are operational, and new operations are in the planning stages, conducting environmental impact assessments and legal studies.
The environmental conflict is therefore still active.

Sources and Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Public campaign to stop Argenteras quarry: çada-per-una-extractiva-des-del-castell-d-escornalbou

GEPEC news about Argenteras quarry:

Meta information

Contributor:Joan Pons Solé
Last update03/05/2014