MADRID, October 8 (RIA Novosti) - Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has supported geologic exploration off the coast of the Canary Islands and urged local authorities "not to engage in demagoguery," ABC newspaper reported Wednesday.
Speaking in the Congress of Deputies on Wednesday, the prime minister said that "all environmental standards are respected."
According to Rajoy, the criteria of the work are "exactly the same" as in any other regions of the country. The prospects of finding hydrocarbons are "good" and the production of oil and gas is "in the interests of the inhabitants of the Canary Islands and all the Spaniards, since it would reduce the country's energy dependence".
"The works do not pose any danger to either tourism or the environment," the prime minister concluded.
In June, environmentalists and the Canary Islands authorities filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court, questioning the right of Repsol energy company to carry out offshore drilling, but it was rejected. The oil exploration sites are near the Fuerteventura and Lanzarote Islands, which are part of UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), a program that includes a number of protected natural areas.
On November 23, the Canary Islands will hold a referendum on offshore drilling in search of oil and gas, the Chairman of the Government of the Canary Islands Paulino Rivero said last week. The question will be "Do you think that the Canary Islands have to change their environmental and tourism model due to oil and gas exploration?" In response, the Spanish government has threatened the Canarian authorities that it would appeal to the Constitutional Court.