Farmers are set to take to the streets in their tractors which could bring roads to a standstill in a crippling blow to Brits who are heading for a holiday there.
UK holidaymakers heading to the Canary Islands could face chaos due to a major protest, officials have warned.
Farmers are planning to drive their tractors through city streets, potentially bringing traffic to a standstill on islands that already have severe road issues, particularly on Tenerife.
British holidaymakers may well find themselves caught up in the chaos if the protesters are as good as their word. Tenerife and Lanzarote are hugely popular destinations for Brits looking for some winter sun.
Disruption broke out on Spain’s streets this week as farmers decided now was the time to make their grievances known. In large numbers they took to the roads, blocking off dozens of junctions around cities including Barcelona while voicing their concerns about rising costs and competition from outside the EU.
The Spanish Young Farmers’ Association was at the forefront of these demonstrations, which come as many in the sector struggle to deal with a climate-change fuelled drought which has been rumbling on for months.
ASAJA Vice President Donaciano Dujo told Spanish news outlet TVE: “With different shades, in the whole of the European Union, we have the same problems”. Meanwhile, Fernando Clavijo, president of the Canary Islands, highlighted the unique challenges faced by the region, saying: “In the Canary Islands, as an outermost region, it is more difficult to produce. And if, in addition to these difficulties, the primary sector is suffocated, it ceases to be competitive and dies.” A further large-scale protest has been planned for the last Saturday in February by four agricultural professional organisations.
Farmers across the EU argue that strict environmental rules put them at a disadvantage compared to agricultural workers in other regions. Mr Dujo summed up the sentiment, stating: “The countryside is fed up.”
The protests this week led to several main national motorways being blocked. Access to the eastern port of Castellon and the southeastern Jerez airport were temporarily cut off. State news agency Efe said that 1,000 tractors were heading slowly towards Barcelona’s city centre, causing major traffic jams on roads into the northeastern port capital of Spain’s Catalonia region.
Several media reports have linked many of the protests Tuesday and Wednesday to conservative groups. So far there have been no serious incidents. The demonstrations are expected to continue over the coming weeks with a major protest in Madrid on February 21.
On Tuesday the Agriculture Ministry announced about 270 million euros ($290 million) in aid to 140,000 farmers to compensate for Spain’s severe drought and problems caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine. Agriculture Minister Luis Planas Puchades met with farmers’ unions on Friday, but failed to persuade them to halt the protests.
There have been other protests in countries such as France, Poland and Greece in recent days.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, has already made concessions to farmers over the last few weeks on environmental and aid rules, and this week decided to shelve plans to halve the use of pesticides and other dangerous products.
Academics in the Canary Islands recently told the Mirror of other issues the holiday hotspots are facing at the moment, including housing shortages, sewage dumps into the sea and a loss of biodiversity.
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