Spain’s PM promises law letting residents choose location of solar, wind farms


MADRID (Reuters) -Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez promised on Friday to allow local residents to decide where solar parks and wind farms are located, while handing them a share in the profits, if his Socialist Party (PSOE) wins this month’s general election.

Many planned photovoltaic parks and wind farms in the country are being delayed by protests from people living nearby, making it one of the election’s hot-button issues.

“We will pass a law that involves local residents in choosing the location of photovoltaic and wind farms, allowing them to participate directly in the co-ownership of up to 10% of the profits they generate,” Sanchez told a PSOE event in Madrid in which he outlined the party’s election manifesto.

The opposition People’s Party (PP), which is leading opinion polls, said in its own manifesto unveiled on Tuesday that it would introduce a fee on renewable energy projects to pay for the administrative costs tied to them.

In September 2022, the mayors of 70 towns in the southern Andalusia region signed a letter urging the regional government to increase transparency and improve planning in such projects, saying the proliferation of solar panels and wind turbines was altering the rural landscape.

Sanchez is trailing the PP’s Alberto Nunez Feijoo in polls ahead of the July 23 ballot. Feijoo said at an event in Seville on Friday that he would focus investment on water infrastructure as farmers and other industries clamour for irrigation amid shortages caused by a prolonged drought.

Feijoo also said he would seek to improve tax and social security for freelancers and small business owners, including making social security payments more flexible and creating a system to be able to take parental leave. The PP will focus on vocational training for young people seeking work as freelancers, he said.

The Socialists would also improve parental leave, extending it to 20 weeks from the current 16 weeks, Sanchez said. They would introduce measures to encourage a better work-life balance through hybrid working hours, he said.

“Spaniards work to live and do not live to work,” Sanchez said.

(Reporting by David Latona and Charlie Devereux; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Frank Jack Daniel)

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