BALEARIC GOVERNMENT NOT RULING OUT LEGAL ACTION

THE Balearic government is not ruling out taking legal action to block the Palma airport expansion project and has repeated its calls for Madrid to hand control of the airport over to the authorities in Palma. Over the past few days a number of political parties have given their support to the newly formed anti-airport expansion lobby and the government's spokesperson, Antoni Garcias, said in his weekly Friday briefing that the government does not consider the expansion plan necessary, apart from the environmental and social damage the project will cause. Furthermore, yesterday it was revealed that the proposed plan fails to meet Balearic planning requirments, passed while Jaume Matas was in power during the last government. Unless the project can be justified on the grounds that it will either improve the environment or is in the interests of civil protection or the military, the project will probably fail to get planning permission. The Development Ministry maintains that by the year 2015, Palma airport will handle 38 million passengers flying in and out of Majorca (19 million), but opponents in Palma have pointed out that since the ministry reached its conclusion on the future of air travel in Spain two years ago, the holiday industry has changed dramatically. Passenger figures at Palma airport have in fact fallen for the past two years consecutively. For six months of the year, Palma's Son San Joan airport is obsolete, handling a skeleton number of flights and passengers and local residents fear that the bulk of the 19 million passengers will be during the summer months and that nearly twice the number of passengers will mean nearly twice the density of air traffic, all packed into three months.

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