This week, for expats living in the Gran Penedès the oil spill which affected many Costa Daurada beaches, the development of the project to build a railway tunnel under Sitges or the success of Attic’09 in Vilanova might be of special interest, but a lot more has happened. Here is a summary starting with the Penedès region as a total, followed by local items, presented comarca by comarca. Sitges, for example, can be found under the headline Garraf.
An oil spill to the south of Tarragona spread to many Costa Daurada beaches, among them those of el Vendrell, Calafell, Cunit and Cubelles. In a few cases, red flags were hoisted up, although it never presented any health risks. Since last Tuesday the situation is back to normal, but the origin of the oil still has not been determined; most likely it came from a boat, but it might also have been spilled by an investigation platform. (3d8) (el Punt)
During his presentation of the so called Commuter Train Plan (Pla de Rodalies de Barcelona), José Blanco, Spanish Minister of Public Works and Transport (Ministerio de Fomento), committed the government to an additional € 1.000 million investment in a railroad semicircle (tren orbital) which is to link the comarca Garraf with Maresme, via Alt Penedès and Vallès. The feasibility studies of the project will start in 2010. (DdV)
The Spanish Ministry of Institutional Relations (Presidencia) has granted € 37.500 to the Institute of Penedès Studies (Institut d’Estudis Penedessencs) and its project ‘Noms i Llocs’ (Names and Places). The aim is to establish the identities of the Civil War victims found in common graves and it has its background in the Spanish program recupercaión de la memoria histórica. (PD)
Joan Raventós, CiU member of the Parliament of Catalonia, will during the coming week formally request for the Generalitat to respect earlier decisions to let the Penedès area become a united entity in infrastructure plans (àmbit funcional de planificació territorial), which, in turn, is the first formal step to the creation of a future, separate administrative region vegueria Penedès. (PD)
During the summer, tourists will be offered minibus excursions to the Parc Natural del Garraf. On Thursday mornings, “the secrets of the natural reserve” will be presented and on Friday afternoons there will be tasting sessions of wines grown close to the sea. From next week, more information will be available at Descobrirgarraf.cat. (VD)
The Consell Comarcal of Garraf has launched GarrafConnecta.cat – a web portal for the industrial and business activities of the comarca, created with the aim to help people find work and education, start up a new enterprise or search for subsidies. (DdV)
During July, one of twenty interested companies will be commissioned to carry out the study of the future railway lines through Sitges by the Spanish Ministerio de Fomento. The plan is to create an underground passage so that the two halves of the town can be connected through greenery areas. (VD).
Officially, the Program of Municipal Waste Management does not point out Vallcarca of Sitges as one of the future locations for a waste incinerator serving the metropolitan area of Barcelona, but the local CiU opposition has received confirmations that this is the case. CiU points out the absurdity of having, in average, 120 big trucks a day transporting waste on a road which has recently been refurbished to be more scenic (carretera paisatgística), and that would be the case if the plans are carried out. At the same time, the ecologist organization APMA (Associació per a la Protecció del Medi Ambient) underlines that to incinerate is not an environmentally friendly waste solution and that to consider building such a plant in the Parc Natural del Garraf reveals how Catalan politicians have given up on ecology targets. (DdV)
Montserrat Esquerda from Sitges is one of the representatives of the platform Som lo que Sembrem (We are what we Sow) who, by staging a hunger strike outside the parliament of Catalonia, are protesting against genetically modified food. (DdV)
July 4, several bars of Sitges took part in ‘Dissabte Jove’ (the “Jove” Saturday) – the first part of a campaign by the local castellers (human tower) team to recruit new members. (DdV)
In a few weeks, we will know whether the Sant Pere de Ribes based company Varo, S.A. - whose debt problems have been commented in earlier issues of Penedès News - will be rescued by Swiss investor. (DdV)
Adif – the Railway Infrastructure Administration – will erect a fence along the railroad in Cubelles, with the objective to improve safety standards. (DdV)
After criticism, the Generalitat has presented a new solution for the planned highway Eix Diagonal (connecting Vilanova to Manresa, via Vilafranca and Igualada), in which two tunnels have been added in order not to cut through Canyelles. (DdV)
Attic'09 – the International Fair of Inventions and New Ideas – celebrated last weekend in Vilanova i la Geltrú, counted 3.200 visitors. With reports in, among others, the newspapers LaVanguardia, El Periódico, and El Mundo, plus the TV-stations TV3, Antena 3, TVE, Tele 5, Cuatro and La Sexta, it has developed to be the local event which receives the most attention from Spanish media. Winner among the inventors this year was Jaume Freixas who has created the so called “hydrohybrid”, a system which injects minuscule drops of distilled water into motors and thereby reduces the need of fuel with 20%. (DdV)
An invader algae with the Latin name caulerpa racemosa has been discovered in the sea north of Vilanova. The species comes from Western Australia and arrived in the Mediterranean in the 90-ies, but has so far never been found in Catalonia. Local fishermen now receive instructions on how to prevent its spread along the coast. (VD)
The fishing port of Vilanova is the only one in Catalonia not open to the public. To develop the port as a tourism asset, the ajuntament wants to remove the fence, but the local fishermen are against it for security reasons, especially now in times of crisis when they regularly meet people begging for food when they bring in the catch. (DdV)
The Vilanova hotel industry copes quite well with the crisis. Occupation rates will be 70% which is only five points below figures from last year. To help visitors, the tourist information office at the beach Ribes Roges will be supported by a temporary kiosk located where the Rambla Principal intersects with avinguda Francesc Macià. (DdV)
This week, the Rambla Pirelli passage under the railroad in Vilanova was again opened up for traffic and in two weeks time it will be open for pedestrians as well. (DdV)
The wine harvest commission of Alt Penedès foresees that the 2009 season, planned to take place from mid-August to mid-September, will result in 25% job opportunities less than last year, reflecting a smaller harvest by also the increasing mechanisation of the industry. (PD)
During a first meeting, Adif has stated that it will not demand that the high speed train TAV (AVE) slows down when it passes Vilafranca del Penedès in the newly built tunnel. However, CiU mayor Pere Regull is confident that new measurements will reveal that the vibrations caused by the TAV are above established limits. (3d8)
During the Festa Major of Sant Pere de Ribes, the Castellers of Vilafranca performed the first two human towers of nine levels of the season 2009; a “3 de 9 amb folre” and a “4 de 9 amb folre”. (DdV)
In order to avoid drowning accidents, the ajuntament of Cunit will install a line of marker buoys between the breakwaters, employ three more lifeguards and construct one new lifeguard tower. (3d8)
A strike has broken out at Y-TEC in Santa Oliva, where a hundred of, above all, female workers demand a future plan for the production facilities. Y-TEC is a supplier to the automotive industry and declines in demand combined with the move of some production molds to Japan, has resulted in fears that the plant will be closed when the vacation period starts. (3d8)
During the coming week, Igualada will for the eighth time host an international course for orchestra conductors. Some 20 young people from Norway, Germany, Brazil, Libanon, Mexico and other countries will be offered the chance to practise with Antoni Ros Marbà – Spain’s internationally most well-known conductor – and the Vallès Symphonic Orchestra. (AD)
After the decline in traditional industries, the comarca Anoia works to attract tourists. A recently concluded study points out that there are several assets to develop; rural tourism in the country side and industrial museums in the towns, wind power parks for environmentally interested people while those who prefer sports could be attracted to the high speed circuit Parc Motor plus events like the European (hot air) Balloon Festival and the light avaition fair Aerosport. (LVD)
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The main sources of Penedès News in English are Vilanova Digital (VD), Sitgesblog (SB), El 3 de Vuit (3d8), Penedès Digital (PD), AnoiaDiari·cat (AD), La Veu Digital (LVD) plus the print version of Diari de Vilanova (DdV). All opinions expressed are my own.
A brief on the political party system of Catalonia can be found here.
Earlier editions can be found under the label Penedès News.
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