On at 14:35 CET
Judicial blow to the owners of the irrigated farms without having the right to water in the Campo de Cartagena. The Administrative Litigation Chamber of the Superior Court of Justice of the Region of Murcia yesterday ordered the restitution to its natural state of an area of 4.91 hectares dedicated to the cultivation of citrus, specifically lemons, in the Casa de lo Pereas area (The grandsons, in Cartagena). This exploitation is located in Zone 1 delimited in the Mar Menor Recovery and Protection Law. It’s about the first judicial response to the cascade of claims that the owners of illegal irrigation in the watershed to paralyze the restitution of the land to its original state.
The court thus dismisses the suspension requested by the company that exploits the land, as a precautionary measure, in the contentious-administrative appeal filed against the order of the Ministry of the Environment that forces the replacement of irrigation to its natural state. With this resolution, the Supreme Court sets a precedent for future claims to which it must respond.
This repositioning of illegal irrigation to its natural state is justified, the court alleges, for reasons of environmental protection and taking into account that the Community has jurisdiction over the control of pollution caused by nitrates of agricultural origin. The order of the Ministry gives a 2-month deadline to submit a land restitution project and fixes on 6 months the maximum execution period, something that the owners of the land must now comply with.
The magistrates see clearly that the restitution “is obligatory” since these lands were being irrigated without the exploitation having authorization from the Segura Hydrographic Confederation for this, to which it is added that the plot is located in the area most protected by the Law of the Mar Menor. The CHS filed a fine of 3,000 euros against the owners of this parcel for “private use of public waters without authorization / concession.” The court also considers that the uprooting of these trees cannot cause “irreparable damage” to the owners since they had not had the right to irrigation for more than two years.
The Chamber considers “generic” and “without support in any data” the allegation that the plantation does not contaminate. In the appeal, the owners point out that planted lemon trees serve to stop runoff in case of heavy rains and that this does not affect the population of Los Nietos, since production is located behind the town. In this case, for the Chamber the protection of the lagoon “prevails” and it indicates to the appellants that the resolution of the Community is firm, and that they must comply with it since they are prohibited from irrigating this plot. The resolution is not final and there is an appeal against it.
Eleven owners turn
The Ministry of the Environment of Murcia pointed out this Wednesday that at the moment eleven of the 50 owners who have been firmly informed that they have to dismantle their plots without the right to irrigation have resorted to the Superior Court of Justice of Murcia to avoid this measure. The Ministry has 169 restitution files in different stages of processing. From them, the first 50 restitution files have already been resolved and communicated to individuals to proceed with the restitution. The extension of these 50 files is 934 hectares. To date, the regional government has forced to restore 158.86 hectares that are already in the state prior to the use of illegal irrigation (they have returned to dry land or to a natural state). These are the first hectares restored and correspond to 10 restitution files.