Although there are still ecological campaigns underway to block the construction of the new El Gorguel container port, planned for an isolated beach and bay on the edge of the borderline between Cartagena and La Unión, Adrián Ángel Viudes, the president of the Port Authority in Cartagena, is confident that the first stone of the future container port at El Gorguel will be laid at the end of 2014, and the new facility will be fully operational by 2017.
Sr Viudes repeated his firm belief yesterday that the new infrastructure will be a great success when it comes into operation, citing the opinion of experts who foresee that there will be heavy maritime traffic in this part of the Mediterranean as of 2016. The president of the Port Authority affirms that demand for port facilities in the western Mediterranean will outstrip supply by 2016, and that any new infrastructure opening at that time is therefore “guaranteed to be successful”.
In September this year the report on the port’s environmental impact will be completed, and after a period when the report will be open to objections and questions from all parties, the Ministry of the Environment will decide whether to give the project the final go-ahead.
Ecologists are confident that they will block the construction of the port at this point, as they claim that the Natura 2000 network will be affected by the macro-port and the Ministry of Environment cannot deny the environmental considerations of the project.
The Cartagena Port Authority are also sure that their star product will not have the anticipated environmantal impact, that the economic impact on the City of Cartagena will far outweigh the environmental value of an area famously referred to as a "pigsty" by the President not long ago, and there will be no need to refer the case to Brussels for an unbiased opinion.
The new port, if it goes ahead, will become the main container port in Cartagena, dealing with dry cargoes as opposed to the liquid cargoes used by the Repsol refinery in Escombreras. It is also hoped that there will be a large volume of road haulage vehicles using the new port, with a “RO-RO” (roll-on, roll-off) ferry facility.
Sr Viudes remains of the opinion that the geographical location of El Gorguel is perfect, tying in with the plans to link the Mediterranean coast to the rest of Europe by improved rail links.
By this he means the Mediterranean corridor rail project, although the wrangling over that has also hit the headlines today, with the old North-South divide in Spain causing controversy, as both groups push for the financing to grant their strategic rail projects priority. At the moment, the financing for the Med Corridor to reach as far down as Cartagena may have to wait until next year's budgets, the central rail link which benefits the North of the country inching ahead in the budget stakes for this year, but tense negotiations are still underway.
As for the question of how the construction of the new macro-port is to be financed, Sr Viudes is confident that it will receive the support of the Ministry of Fomento, which has already certified that the project is technically, economically and financially viable, and has passed the plans on to the Ministry of the Environment for the necessary studies to be made.
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