4) The ecologist organization DEPANA presented an alternative proposal to minimize the impact on the natural reserves. News published in the press on this topic

A) What is DEPANA ?

B) What was DEPANA's proposal ?

C) Why this proposal was not considered ?

D) Which operation could have been the best for Gavà Mar ?





DEPANA   DEPANA, the Association for the Defense of Natural Patrimony, is a non- profit non- governmental organization. It was founded in 1976 with the objective to defend the natural patrimony of the country from a global perspective of the problems that affect the different species, ecosystems, and the relations between man and the environment.


It was named a Public Utility in 1979 because, since its creation, it has aimed to defend the collective interest, being that it is every citizen's right to enjoy an environmentally healthy country and to have a better quality of life.

DEPANA, is a member of the UICN ('The International Union for the Conservation of Nature'), of CIDN ('Iberian Council for the Defense of Nature'), of BEE ('European Environmental Agency') and of Eurosite.

Most of DEPANA's tasks are carried out by volunteers. The organization is maintained by contributions from its present 1,800 members. Its actions, which are always based on rigorous scientific and technical assessments, have earned it representation in numerous commissions and assessment meetings of public Catalan organizations such as the Council for the Protection of Nature, Natural Park meetings, Reserves and Hunting, Fishing and Health Councils, etc.

The campaigns and activities that DEPANA has undertaken since its foundation have converted it into a prestigious association and today it represents the most important nature conservation project of Catalonia.

DEPANA has worked to establish the foundations that are necessary for Catalonia to develop in a more sustainable manner; that is to say, to balance the management of natural resources. Its actions tie together the problems affecting the different species, ecosystems and the relations between man and the environment.

To achieve its general aim, the defense of natural patrimony, DEPANA outlines the following objectives:

  • To promote research and defense of natural patrimony activities, conservation of the environment and its problems
  • To achieve the promulgation of environmental legislation and regulations and to strive for its rigorous enforcement
  • To offer information services to member organizations
  • To serve as interlocutor before those organizations and administrations that request our presence and to participate in their advisory bodies
  • To establish relations with other similar organizations and to represent organizations for the defense of nature in state and international forums
  • To acquire and manage lands while conserving their value and natural resources
  • These proposals would be achieved by means of defense campaigns, conservation projects, environmental education activities, research activities and publications


DEPANA studied the analysis committee's different proposals and came to the following conclusions about where to situate the new third runway:

  • If the new third runway was brought nearer to the main runway the impact on the Remolar Reserve
    (situated in the south of the airport) would be greater
  • If the new third runway was moved away from the main runway, the impact on the Ricarda Reserve
    (situated in the north of the airport) would be greater

Moreover, the location selected by the analysis committee to construct the new terminal for travellers (next to the Remolar reserve) would force the destruction of the wet zones of La Volateria and of El Pas de les Vaques.

After analyzing the asymmetrical impacts, a proposal was suggested to turn the new third runway 12 degrees on the main runway's axis. The new runway would become runway 05R-23L. In a later phase, they could proceed to equally turn the main runway, which would then become runway 05L-23R.

DEPANA affirmed that this position change would significantly lessen the impact on the natural spaces and on the urban zones of Castelldefels and Gavà, and would not increase the acoustic impact on the urban area of El Prat.

The third runway's new position would make it possible to build it longer than what was previously predicted by the analysis committee.

Thus, the transverse runway -which produces the greatest impact on El Prat- would remain practically inactive. In its place a new transverse runway with a longitude of 3,400 meters that would not cross the other two runways could be constructed, avoiding disturbances for El Prat and L'Hospitalet since planes would fly over Zona Franca.

The proposal was completed with the construction of the new terminal near the La Ricarda lagoon and not the Remolar lagoon -which they ended up approving-. This in itself would avoid the deviation of the Castelldefels highway (C-31), which would destroy the wet zones of Can Sabadell.

DEPANA's alternative proposal

DEPANA's alternative proposal

- Airport for Baix Llobregat



When this proposal was publicly put forward, the political decision had already been taken, although the public procedure had not started yet.


Jordi Portabella  

Jordi Portabella (ERC) -in the opposition at that moment- brought DEPANA's proposal to the Catalan Parliament to get the Government of the Generalitat's opinion on it.

However, at the moment of the opening of the third runway he was the economic promotion councilman for the City Council of Barcelona and promoter for international flights.

- 19980728 Parliament of Catalonia - file 314-10512-05 (Question)


Pere Macias  

Pere Macias (CiU) answered arguing that the proposal of DEPANA required rebuilding the airport completely and did not take into consideration neither the town of El Prat, nor the obstacle the mountain of Montjuïc represents. According to him, it did not consider the closeness to inhabited areas either.

- At that moment: Secretary of Territorial Politics and Public Works of the Catalan Government
- At the moment of the opening of the third runway: senator in Madrid; he would question the Spanish Government over this issue.

- 19981028 Answer (Secretary of Territorial Politics of the Catalan Government)




- WEST configuration take-offs:

  • From the new main runway would be even more unbearable for Gavà Mar than from the present main runway. Planes would pass over nearer the center of Gavà Mar thus gravely affecting the entire neighborhood, while the affects would be less for certain areas of Castelldefels.
  • From the new third runway would be better than present take-offs because planes would be aimed more in the direction of the sea and would move away from Gavà Mar with more ease
  • From the new transverse runway situated toward the sea would be excellent for Gavà Mar


- EAST configuration landings:

  • On the new main runway would be much worse than on the present main runway because all of Gavà Mar would be more affected. On the other hand, certain areas of Castelldefels would be less affected.
  • On the new third runway would be better than landings on the present third runway.
  • On the new transverse runway entering from the sea would be excellent for Gavà Mar


Consequently, the possibly improved operation of SEGREGATED runways would be the following:

- In a WEST configuration

  • Take-offs from the new third runway with a 60-degree tilt towards the sea (much easier to do than at the present time)
  • Heavy airplanes that could not take off from this runway (which would be less because the third runway would be longer) would have to take off from the new transverse runway. In the case of not being able to, they would have to take off from the main runway thus producing more affects on Gavà Mar.
  • Landings on the new main runway coming from the Port


- In an EAST configuration (A change in the runways' roles)

  • Take-offs from the new main runway in direction of Zona Franca
  • Landings on the new third runway (planes passing farther away from Gavà Mar) since landings on the new main runway would gravely affect Gavà Mar


- In NIGHT configuration

  • Take-offs from the new third runway in direction of Zona Franca
  • Landings on the new transverse runway (entering from the sea)


If the airport were to operate with INDEPENDENT runways: complete disaster !