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Two more Catalan laws taken before the Spanish Constitutional Court

The Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) has partially admitted an appeal made by the Spanish government which considered unconstitutional the Catalan law which bans ‘fracking’ in Catalonia and the regulation against building department stores of more than 800 m2 in urban areas. Regarding the prohibition of ‘fracking’, the Catalan law foresaw the prohibition of this well-simulation technique in which rock is fractured by a pressurised liquid “when it may have negative effects on the geologic, environmental and socioeconomic characteristics of the area”. However, the TC considered that it “invaded competences of the Spanish state”.So far, there have been 33 acts approved by the Catalan government and Parliament which have later been taken before the Constitutional Court.

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25 April 2016 07:02 PM

by

ACN

Barcelona (CNA).- The Catalan law which bans ‘fracking’ in Catalonia and the regulation against building department stores of more than 800 m2 in urban areas have been taken before the Spanish Constitutional Court. Regarding the prohibition of ‘fracking’, the Catalan law foresaw the prohibition of this well-simulation technique in which rock is fractured by a pressurised liquid “when it may have negative effects on the geologic, environmental and socioeconomic characteristics of the area”. However, the TC considered that it “invaded competences of the Spanish state”. In relation to the law which banned the construction of big department stores in urban areas, the TC considered that such prohibition doesn’t respond to “imperative reasons of general interest”.


So far, there have been 33 acts approved by the Catalan government and Parliament which have later been taken before the Constitutional Court. Last Friday, the Spanish executive challenged the Law for Local Government, the Law on Empty Houses and the Law on Equality between Men and Women in the Court.

Suspension of the ‘fracking’ regulation

In particular, the TC gave leave to proceed with article 167.1 of the Parliament Law which established the prohibition of exploring, investigating and extracting hydrocarbons deposits through this technique in which rock is fractured by a pressurised liquid. According to the Court, it is the Spanish State which has the competences to allow or forbid this technique and the magistrates referred to the sentences which banned ‘fracking’ in other Autonomous Communities in Spain and which have ultimately been suspended.

According to the TC, the Catalan law “reformulates from a radically different perspective” the Spanish legislation, which allows ‘fracking’ as long as it “complies with certain technical and environmental requirements”. 

Hydraulic fracturing is highly controversial in many countries. Opponents argue that the benefits of fracking, which are mainly to do with making hydrocarbons more accessible, are outweighed by the potential environmental impacts, which include risks of ground and surface water contamination, air and noise pollution, and potential earthquakes, along with the consequential hazards to public health and the environment.

Therefore, hydraulic fracturing is under international scrutiny, restricted in some countries, and banned altogether in others.

Open door to build shopping malls in urban areas

The TC also suspended the article which prohibited the implementation of commercial establishments with a surface area of 800 m2 or more in “consolidated urban areas”. According to the magistrates, the suspension doesn’t respond to “imperative reasons of general interest” and therefore it is not aligned to what the state regulation establishes.

According to the Court, the Catalan law “doesn’t externalise any reason to restrict so strongly the implementation of commercial establishments” of 800 m2 or more and therefore “directly opposes” the Spanish law on this matter. 

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  • Spanish Constitutional Court's building, in Madrid (by ACN)

  • Spanish Constitutional Court's building, in Madrid (by ACN)