Sunday, June 16, 2024

New blow for airport: judge suspends project on environmental grounds

A judge today overruled the environmental approval for the Santa Lucía airport that was granted by the federal Environment Secretariat (Semarnat) in July.

The México state district judge issued a suspension order against Semarnat’s authorization, a ruling that is yet another blow to the government’s plan to build a new airport on the site of the Santa Lucía Air Force Base,  located almost 50 kilometers north of central Mexico City.

Today’s decision came in response to an injunction request filed by the #NoMásDerroches (No More Waste) Collective, a group made up of civil society organizations, law firms and more than 100 citizens.

The group has filed more than 80 injunction requests against the airport project and has already been granted several.

The collective said in a statement that the latest ruling was handed down because Semarnat itself recognized that the project will cause damage to ecosystems located in the vicinity of the site.

The group said the judge noted that Semarnat’s environmental impact authorization recognized that in order to build the airport, vegetation would have to be removed and flora and fauna would have to be relocated.

The judge’s ruling also took into account Semarnat’s acknowledgment that construction of the airport would affect water drainage and capture capacities, increase air pollution and cause damage to communities in the area that would be difficult to repair, #NoMásDerroches said.

“With this new injunctive relief . . . the commencement of construction of the Santa Lucía airport will have to wait until a definitive ruling is issued . . . [Today’s ruling] prohibits the execution of the environmental impact authorization until the judge analyzes whether it complies with environmental principles and guarantees the right to a healthy environment . . .” the collective said.

The decision follows a ruling by a federal judge last week that the abandoned airport project at Texcoco must be left intact. Plans to restore a drained lake at the site and thus leave the foundations of the X-shaped terminal building and a section of runway underwater were revealed in June.

The Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), which is building the Santa Lucía project, said last month that the airport will open in January 2022, six months later than originally anticipated.

However, according to the master plan, its construction will take 30 months, meaning that even if the project were to start this month, it would not be completed until February 2022.

Communications and Transportation Secretary Javier Jiménez Espriú said yesterday that he had “no idea” how long the project might be delayed, explaining that the government is “waiting for the judicial resolution of the injunctions.”

The Santa Lucía airport is part of a three-pronged plan to meet growing demand for airline services in the greater Mexico City area. The government also plans to upgrade the Mexico City and Toluca airports. A third terminal is planned for the former.

The estimated cost of the Santa Lucía airport has increased twice even before construction has begun.

Building the airport and a highway connecting Mexico City, as well as relocating military facilities on the air force base site, will cost 91.97 billion pesos (US $4.7 billion), Sedena said.

Source: El Financiero (sp) 

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