Complementary information on the Secretariat Memorandum: «Possible new file: «El Regajal» Nature Reserve»

Complementary information on the Secretariat Memorandum: "Possible new file: "El Regajal" Nature Reserve", prepared by the Dirección General de Conservación de la Naturaleza, Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, Spain

Con motivo del proyecto para la construcción de una autopista sobre los terrenos de la Reserva Natural de "El Regajal" la Real Sociedad remitió al Ministerio de Fomento un informe sobre la importancia biológica de dicho espacio, con la pretensión última de evitar el destructivo impacto sobre ella.

El informe fue elaborado por el Profesor José Luis Viejo y aprobado por la Junta Directiva en su reunión de 4 de febrero.

En los primeros días de diciembre de 1999 el Profesor Viejo remitió a la Junta Directiva de la Sociedad dos informes sobre esta cuestión. El primero, elaborado por la Subdirección General de Conservación de la Biodiversidad, del Ministerio de Medio Ambiente español, se reproduce a continuación:


1. Introduction.

The Standing Committee of the Bern Convention has been invited to consider whether a file should be opened on protecting the "El Regajal" Nature Reserve regarding to the construction plans for the R-4 motorway (Madrid-Ocaña).

The informative study "N-IV [national road IV] Section: Variant from M-50 to N-IV, in the area of Ocaña" (Madrid-Toledo) of the Dirección General de Carreteras (DGC) of the Ministerio de Fomento, has been sumitted to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The procedure of EIA is regulated in Spain by Real Decreto 1302/1986 and Real Decreto 1131/1988. Both regulations transpose the Directive 85/377/CEE, of June 27th. The proponent of the infomative study pretends to connect, through a motorway (called radial R-4), the N-IV in Ocaña with the M-50, a beltway of Madrid city.

A report was initially presented (June 5th, 1996) by the DGC ant thereafter the environmental organ initiated consultations. The responses were transmitted to the proponent with a report on how to focus the Environmental Impact Study (EIS). The DGC submitted both the informative study and EIS to public information, but the enviromental organ rejected both studies because they did not comply with his requirement of no affection to Special Protection Areas (SPAs) 119 and 142. The DGC had to present a new informative study, developing new alternative routes, a new EIS and a document on compliance with Article 6 of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC. A new public information for all these documents was made, including an annex containing an environmental comparison of the different routes in the surroundings of SPA number 119 "Carrizales y sotos de Aranjuez" and, inside it, the Nature Reserve "El Regajal-Mar de Ontígola", declared by the Comunidad de Madrid.

2. The Environmental Impact Statement.

By Resolution of July 30th, 1999 (Boletín Oficial del Estado of August 31th), the Dirección General de Calidad y Evaluación Ambiental has formulated the Environmental Impact Statement (DIA) of the informative study. It considers that the least unfavourable alternative is the so called 7th, as modified in the area of the Nature Reserve by bringing the road to the west of the N-IV (the itinerary that Mr Viejo was requesting). Besides, a series of conditions have been established, plus the recommendations and preventive, corrective and compensatory measures contained in the EIS and in Article 6 of the Habitats Directive. This conditions are synthesized as follows:

  1. Measures in the area of the SPA 119, Nature Reserve "El Regajal-Mar de Ontígola", SIC 3110006 and SIC "El Salobral".

  2. Environmental adaptation of the route.

  3. Protection and conservation of soils.

  4. Protection of the hydrological system.

  5. Territorial permeability and protection of fauna.

  6. Protection of cultural heritage.

  7. Sound pollution.

  8. Location of quarries, dumps and auxiliary facilities.

  9. Defense against erosion, environmental recovery and landscape integration.

  10. Monitoring and control.

3. Nature Reserve "El Regajal": protection and compensatory measures.

The first condition includes measures in the area of the nature reserve which must be included in the project, with technical bidding specifications, plans and budget. These include:

  • Preventive measures:

    • Closing of the work areas before the machinery enters, strictly limited to the perimeter of the projected structure.

    • The only access to works should be made through the space the structure will take, not the preexistent paths in the nature reserve.

    • Prohibition of doing previous works from April 1st to Jule 1st.

    • Works will take place only during daylight. Artificial lighting will only be justified on people`s security. It will not be of mercury vapours, but sodium or similar ones, of yellow tonality.

    • Prohibition of placing auxiliar work facilities or machinery parks inside the nature reserve.

    • Quarrying will not be allowed in any form inside the nature reserve.

    • Sediment catching barriers.

    • Antidust irrigation.

    • Firefight.

  • Corrective measures:

    • Detail of vegetal soil quantities collected and reserved, and reuse of it in the recovery works. The stocks will remain outside the nature reserve until reutilization.

    • Covering of the motorway throughout the nature reserve.

    • Recovery of the vegetation at the temporally occupied areas.

    • Drainage water collector along the motorway through the nature reserve towards the decantation and degreasing pools.

  • Compensatory measures:

    • Exotic plant species introduced in the actual N-IV slopes will be removed. Environmental recovery of the slopes.

    • N-IV drainage correction.

    • Certain lands north of the nature reserve will be bought or expropiated for subsequent restoration.

    • Recovery of natural habitats inside the nature reserve, by planting flora species that are nutritive for some lepidoptera or endemic species from El Regajal.

    • Recovery of shores of the river Tajo, 1.000 m up and downstream the N-IV.

    • Placing 354 or more quiroptera refuges on the evergreen oaks west of El Regajal and another 80 in the Tajo river groves.

    • Covering of the N-IV in the area.

4. The Environmetal Monitoring Program.

The tenth condition forces the DGC to develop an Environmental Monitoring Program (EMP) to monitor and control the impacts and to check the effectiveness of the preventive, corrective and compensatory measures that both EIS and DIA state. That EMP should include: control objectives; actions; placing and periodicity of inspections; materials, methods and technical staff required; parameters and their critic thresholds; preventive and control measures on those thresholds; and report about each control. The construction company will have to appoint an environmental director of the works and a team responsible for guaranteeing the environmental quality of the whole project. Reports will be sent to the DG de Calidad y Evaluación Ambiental, when the DIA states. The report on the preventive, corrective and compensatory measures in the area of the Nature Reserve "El Regajal-Mar de Ontígola" must be included in first reception act. Besides, half-yearly, during the first three years after the signing of the former act, a report on the sate and effectiveness of the corrective and compensatory measures will be produced.

In order to guarantee the best knowledge of the environmental organs on the environmental evolution of the project and on the application of the preventive, corrective and compensatory measures, the DGC will set up a Monitoring Commission with the following members:

  • Ministerio de Medio Ambiente.

  • Demarcación de Carreteras del Estado en Madrid.

  • Consejería de Medio Ambiente de la Comunidad de Madrid (manager of the nature reserve).

  • Consejería de Agricultura y Medio Ambiente of the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha.

  • Works direction.

  • Environmental works direction.

  • Building contractor.

Thet group will be convened for a meeting before and during the works and in the phase of explotaition, with the periodicity that the DIA states.

The DIA refers to the aditional documents the DGC has to present and includes a clause in order to assure enough financing of the measures stated in it and the EMP, as separate items in the total budget.

5. Conclusion.

As a result, the Ministry of Environment of Spain affirms:

  1. The route Mr Viejo asked for to be taken into account has been considered in the Environmental Impact Statement (DIA) of the informative study, the least unfavourable alternative course. It is the so called 7th alternative, as modified in the area of the nature reserve by building the road along the west of the N-IV, although this modification was not initially foreseen in the environmental impact study.

  2. Mr Viejo asked that an exhaustive study be carried out on the threats posed by this project. So does the DIA, wich states a whole environmental monitoring program of the exhaustive specific preventive, corrective and compensatory measures established in it, in order to guarantee the protection and recovery of the nature reserve, and a monitoring commission to check compliance.

  3. We believe that the above actions are enough to safeguard the nature reserve "El Regajal" finding a satisfactory solution to the problems Mr Viejo pointed out in his complain and monitoring as effectively as possible the means chosen to resolve them.

  4. In conclusion we ask the Standing Commmittee to take into account these explanations and decline to open a file on this issue.

Madrid, 25 november 1999


(c) Real Sociedad Española de Historia Natural. Facultades de Biología y Geología. Universidad Complutense de Madrid. 28040-Madrid - e-mail: