MOSCOW, October 10 (RIA Novosti) - The Government of Spain initiated on Friday the process of appealing a decision by Canary Islands' authorities to hold a referendum on offshore drilling for oil and gas.
The Spanish cabinet began the consultation process prior to an appeal at the Constitutional Court on the Canary Islands" decision to hold a referendum on the drilling issue, EFE news agency reported.
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 near the islands, but it was rejected. The oil exploration sites are close to the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, which are part of UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), a program that includes a number of protected natural areas.
Last week Chairman of the Government of the Canary Islands Paulino Rivero announced that the Canary Islands will hold a referendum on offshore drilling in search of oil and gas on November 23. 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?" The wording of the question has already drawn widespread criticism due to its vagueness as many believe it would be more appropriate to ask a more direct question, such as "Do you support drilling for oil near the Canary Islands?"
On Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy speaking in the Congress of Deputies said that he supports geologic exploration off the coast of the Canary Islands and urged local authorities "not to engage in demagoguery."