MADRID, October 6 (RIA Novosti) - The Canarian authorities, representatives of environmental organizations and leftist movements descended on the building of the Congress of Deputies in Madrid, demanding a ban on exploration of oil and gas off the coast of the Canary Islands, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported.
"We came to the building of the Congress to protest against oil and gas exploration near the Canary Islands," the leader of the green party EQUO, Juan Lopez de Uralde told RIA Novosti. "The campaign against exploration is already underway both on the Canary Islands, and in Europe, where a number of political groups oppose geological prospecting works. On October 18, a large demonstration will be held on the Canary Islands, demanding a freeze on the work searching for oil and gas. They must be stopped, because even Repsol is not interested [in the project]. In fact, perhaps there is no oil at all. It's the People's Party that promotes [the works] for political expediency."
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 of the Fuerteventura and Lanzarote Islands, which are part of UNESCO"s World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), a program that includes a number of internationally 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.