3) Finally they decided to situate the 3rd runway parallel to the main runway on the sea side at a distance of 1,350 meters with a longitude of 2,660 meters. Given that the new runway is short (due to the fact that it is boxed between the lagoons of La Ricarda and El Remolar), they decide to expand the main runway from 3,108 meters to 3,743 meters and to widen it up to 60 meters:

A) What was the Ministerio de Fomento's initial proposal ?

B) How did the different stances evolve ?

C) How was a final agreement reached ?



Ministerio de Foment

The Ministerio de Fomento was the one at the front of the line; its initial proposal was to maximize the airport's operational capacity by placing the third runway 1,500 meters away from the main runway.




Given that the Catalan institutions wanted to place the runway closer to the main runway to reduce the impact on the natural reserves, the Ministerio de Fomento proposed to situate the 3rd runway 1,350 meters away from the main runway and to relocate the natural reserves to La Murtra (Gavà Mar) or to the Tordera River. The latter was rejected by ecological organization.

Jordi Portabella

In the Parliament of Catalonia, Jordi Portabella (ERC) formulated this question:

  • At that moment: in the opposition
  • At the moment of the opening of the 3rd runway: councilman of economic development of the City Hall of Barcelona and supporter of international flights in the CDRA
Pregunta de Jordi Portabella (ERC) sobre el posible traslado de las reservas del delta del Llobregat para ampliar el aeropuerto del Prat - Parliament of Catalonia - expedient 314-06747-05 (Question)
Joan-Ignasi Puigdollers i Noblom

Joan-Ignasi Puigdollers i Noblom (CiU) dodges the question:

  • At that moment: Secretary of Environmental Affairs of the Generalitat

Respuesta del Conseller de Medio Ambiente de la Generalitat (Joan Ignasi Puidollers) esquivando entrar en el tema del posible traslado de las reservas naturales del Prat para ampliar el aeropuerto (5 de diciembre de 1997) - Parliament of Catalonia - Answer (December 5th, 1997)





The analysis committee's conclusions allowed for all institutions to continue defending their own proposals. As a result it was necessary to reach a political agreement to break the deadlock on the negotiations.

On May 20th, 1998 the Committee for the Enforcement of the 'Pla Delta' held a meeting but was unable to come to an agreement. News published in the press on this topic

The complex political situation at that time must be pointed out:

José María Aznar
  • José María Aznar (PP), at the front of the Spanish Government, needed CiU's support to obtain absolute majority in the Spanish Parliament.
Jordi Pujol i Soley
  • Jordi Pujol (CiU), President of the Catalan Autonomous Government at that moment, needed to prove before the Catalan society that his pacts with PP benefited Catalonia in the form of investments (port, airport, AVE...)


If an agreement was not reached and the Ministerio de Fomento went forward with its proposal, which would directly affect the ZEPA reserves and propose its relocation, then a decision from the European Union would have to be issued. The expected decision would be against the relocation, which would mean that the whole process would start all over again while... the Barajas airport continued expanding unstoppably.

It was vital to hurry up because once a decision about the location of the runway was made many more steps needed to be taken:

On May 26th, 1998 the Minister of Fomento, Rafael Arias-Salgado (PP), took advantage of a conference in the Architect College of Barcelona to insist that the Ministerio de Fomento's proposal was the best out of all of them.

These declarations provoked indignation for the other negotiators that had picked up the newspaper EL PAÍS: News published in the press on this topic

  • Pere Macias (CiU), Secretary of Territorial Politics of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia, defined them as being an 'IRRESPONSIBILITY'’
  • Lluís Tejedor (ICV), the Mayor of Prat, defined them as 'FRIVOLOUS AND ILL-TIMED' and the minister as someone who 'IGNORES THE COMMITEE'S STUDIES AND ANALYSIS'

On June 9th, 1998, Pere Macias (CiU), Secretary of Territorial Politics of the Autonomous Government of Catalonia, declared during the TV program 'Bon Dia Catalunya' (TV3) that 'on everybody's part there is good will, as well as from the airport and the Ministerio de Fomento' and he let it slip out that there was a pact of silence among the different administrations.



On July 2nd, 1998, an agreement among the 3 most important Catalan institutions of the 'Pla Delta' was made public:

  • Autonomous Government of Catalonia (CiU)
  • City Hall of Barcelona (PSC+ICV+ERC)
  • City Hall of Prat (ICV)

Based on the conclusions extracted by the analysis committee, they agree that the best solution is:

  • To construct the 3rd runway at 1,350 meters from the main runway with a longitude inferior than 2,700 meters without invading the ZEPA zones
  • To lengthen the main runway to 3,500 meters.
  • To maintain the transverse runway only as a reserved runway

You can read the complete agreement:

- Acord bàsic per l'ampliació de l'aeroport de Barcelona (July 2nd, 1998)

This proposal is perfectly acceptable to the Spanish Government (PP) because it guarantees the desired operational capacity for the airport.

Imagen virtual de como quedará el aeropuerto del Prat después de la ampliación


The view from Gavà Mar: VERY BAD AGREEMENT because

1. They agreed to construct a new runway directly aimed at the north of Gavà Mar (a zone where planes have never flown over before)

2. If the lengthening of the main runway was carried out towards Gavà Mar, the planes would fly over us at an even lower altitude

3. It eliminated the transverse runway's use (constructed in the late 60's), which is the runway that allows for the best quality of life in Gavà Mar

4. There is not one mention in the entire agreement of the location's impact on Gavà Mar. According to the signing members of the agreement WE SIMPLY DO NOT EXIST. However it mentions the lagoon system, the aquifers, the pine groves, the biodiversity... But not one single word about the human beings that live in Gavà Mar

5. The saturation of this airport is predicted for the future. What will happen then?